I like to point out interesting things to my children while we walk. Sometimes to teach them a lesson; other times to distract them from feeling tired and complaining! Today, however, I noticed something that I didn’t stop to discuss but that stayed in my mind and made an impression on me. At the side of the path where we were walking was a young apple tree that had blown over so that it was almost horizontal. Despite its awkward and unnatural angle, with its branches almost scraping the ground, it was resplendent with pink and white blossoms. The strong winter winds had taken their toll on that little tree yet still it bloomed with the prospect of bearing fruit later this year.
It made me wonder about the effects of adversity in my life. We each have our own burdens to bear, some well known and others hidden, but, despite the battering that life can bring, do I still bear fruit? Even when brought low and when circumstances seem almost too much to bear, do I still show some evidence of Christlikeness?
As a family, we have been blessed in so many ways. However, in the last year we have been faced with long-term health issues and have recently known the loss of a loved one. It has made me turn to and depend on God in a way that I never have before. I have struggled and wrestled with the fact that things may not work out all right in the end and there is the possibility of facing some problems for a long time to come. It has had me wondering why; questioning the lessons I should learn from this; pleading for answers. It has revealed some ugly truths about myself that I have had to face up to and do something about. And yet it has also amazed me with the sufficiency that is found in God. The reality of His presence in the difficult times. The promises in His Word that shine light and hope in the darkest moments. The prayers and support of other Christians which strengthen and help.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV).
While I have not been through illness or loss to the extent that others have, it has highlighted to me the importance of my reactions and attitude when things are not all well. When the day is dark, I can be a light pointing others to Christ. When winds of adversity blow, I can stand tall and display the fruit of the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV).