A Kansas summer can feel horrible. It often has searing heat, strong wind, and humidity that makes us all crave air conditioning or an ice-cold lemonade. Our conditions are harsh and demanding every year. These challenging elements try us and yet there are old trees standing in every community.
The heat, wind, and drought like conditions allow certain trees to develop a strong root system. One where they dig down into fertile soil and become an anchor when storms, tornadoes, and gales unleash their worst across Kansas. The trials, torment, and tough times produce strong trees that can survive truly horrible conditions.
People are the same way. No one desires a season of pain, anguish, or torment in life, but it often finds us. This tough season of life is often seen in the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a serious illness, financial difficulty, a broken relationship, terrorist attacks, war, and other traumatic events. These are all examples of very challenging life experiences that hurt when they happen, but can produce stronger roots.
James writes to the Jerusalem church in verses 2-4 sharing:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
While it does not feel good when it happens, trials can ultimately yield endurance and strength to our faith and our life. When life seems dark and difficult, be like David and pray to God for strength. When you are scared, reach for your Bible and take comfort knowing that God will not forsake you. When you grieve, know that Christ also wept with hurt and loss as He consoled a community of mourners. Endure. Stay strong. Keep your faith. Maintain your trust in the Lord and you will find a new season of life through Christ.
Science and psychology has finally caught up with this lesson from James. Study after study now document resilience and post traumatic growth for people who have weathered trauma and a hard season of life.
While trauma can impair people in many ways, it turns out that there is routinely a higher percentage of people who demonstrate the ability to bounce back and learn from a hard season of life. And yes, they are often people of faith who rely on their religion, faith, or spiritual practice for healing and recovery. Today, faith is often embraced as a central and beneficial means of coping with tragedy.
Consider how trees survive in England. The climate is wet, damp, and dreary. Spend a week there and you will pray to see the sun. The soil is often moist because of the frequent rain showers. This climate prevents trees from establishing deep roots in the soil. The root system instead stays near the topsoil, hardly ever going deep into the ground. A strong wind storm will often topple multiple trees in England provoking a community clean up in villages across the country. Trees that have not been tested with hardship do not produce deep roots. They are instead the first to fall when the storms of life come their way.
While summer conditions feel bad now they make deep roots, bring hope for tomorrow, and deliver a new season of life.