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Posts Tagged ‘resiliency’

oak tree

The Oak Tree

by Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr.

A mighty wind blew night and day.

It stole the oak tree’s leaves away,

Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark,

Until the oak tree was tired and stark.

But still the oak tree held its ground

While other trees fell all around.

The weary wind gave up and spoke.

“How can you still be standing, Oak?”

The oak tree said, “I know that you

Can break each branch of mine in two,

Carry every leaf away,

Shake my limbs, and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched into the earth,

Growing stronger since my birth.

You’ll never touch them, for you see,

They are the deepest part of me.

Until today, I wasn’t sure

Of just how much I could endure.

But now I’ve found, with thanks to you,

I’m stronger than I ever knew.”

 

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snow tulips

Most of America has snow on the ground.  People are inside, trying to stay warm. Recently, I looked out my window at home to see a dozen tulips poking through a snow drift.  I marveled at the strength and power that made those plants grow in such harsh and demanding conditions.  I didn’t want to go outside because of the freezing cold, but the tulips pushed through the layers of dirt, soil, leaves, and now several inches of snow.

We forget it, but people are like those snow covered tulips.  Folks can push through tremendous difficulty and hardship.  We often grow during the most difficult times in life when there is an inner strength guiding us forward.

Scripture provides a picture of this in 2 Corinthians chapter 4.  Paul writes to the church and says, “do not lose heart.”  There is an inner strength in you that the world will not understand.  While it may be confused with personal strength, it is a “treasure in jars of clay.”  This extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.  It gives the ability to endure, maintain, and move forward even when life gives us the worst conditions possible.

Paul also shares how resilient believers can be because of God strengthening us in times of sorrow. In verse 8 he shares that God provides so well that “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed . . . .”  The Lord who helped Israel endure the desert sands will also strengthen you during the challenges of today.

God provides a covering that shelters us during the storms of life.  He also allows His Holy Spirit to guide us and strengthen us when we only see darkness.  The inner strength protects us and allows us to move upward, beyond the dirt and soil of difficulty.

Don’t lose heart.  Remember what God can do with snow covered tulips.  He renews their inner strength day by day, allowing momentary afflictions to prepare them for a greater reward and a new season of life.

 

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ash tree

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.

 

 

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