I have a rosebush in my backyard. When I first moved into my house I didn’t even know I had a rosebush because there were no roses. I thought it was just another piece of shrubbery. One day I went outside and saw that I had two little roses. I was so excited. I took pictures. I told people. I made up this really great quip about how God loves me so much that he sent me roses. A few days later there was a storm and they blew away. I thought little about it and moved on to something else; however, a few weeks later I noticed that not only did I now have four red roses, on a separate rose bush I had a single yellow rose. Once again I took pictures, told people. Clearly I get excited about the small things. Shortly after, these roses followed the suit of their predecessors and went away.
Last Thursday night there was a really bad thunder storm. The wind’s whispers turned to howls as its speed and intensity increased. The rain beat on my window a/c unit like an African drum. The lightning whipped across the sky and the thunder roared with rage. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a bit of a scaredy cat in those situations. I had trouble sleeping and wound up calling one of my friends to help me get my mind off of it. Thank goodness for friends who don’t mind you calling at 2am! Lol
After the storm was over, I didn’t think any more of it. I still remember that it happened. I still remember how scared and uncomfortable I was. I still remember how alone and vulnerable I felt. I still remember who I talked to that helped me get through it. Most importantly, I still remember how excited I was that it was over.
Over the weekend I went out into my backyard and noticed that I now have a bush full of roses. Now, I don’t know a lot about rose bushes and how they operate, but I do think that the rain helped the flowers blossom to their full potential. While I may have still had roses without such an intense storm, my bush may not have bloomed to its full potential.
This reminds me a lot about life. There are so many times where it seems we’re given something only to have it taken away. We have children, mothers and fathers that we have to bury. We have jobs that we lose. We have relationships that we expected to last forever, that fall short of that goal. We have dreams that seem to keep us on a roller coaster ride of emotions, because it seems as soon as we take one step forward, we take three steps back. Sometimes it seems as if we’re always coming out of one storm, only to head right into another.
I encourage you to read Lamentations 3. In this passage Jeremiah gave a heart-wrenching account of how he was going through it. He even went as far to say that he had “forgotten what prosperity is.” We’ve all had times where we’ve felt like this. Jeremiah gives us hope to get through these times.
v19. I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
v20. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
v21. Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
v22. Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
v23. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
v24. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
v25. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the ones who seek him.
Jeremiah does not say that we will never go through storms again. He doesn’t even say that he’s through this storm. He merely gives hope that when you have faith in the Lord, you can make it through your storms.
David, in Psalms 103, gives us even more hope when he says in verses 4 and 5 that God “redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion” and “satisfies your desires with good things…”
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking “I’m all about the love and compassion part, but I’m really not feeling these storms. What’s that all about?” Well, I have an answer for you. James offers this advice in James 1:2-4:
v2. Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds
v3. Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
v4. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I’m sure if rosebushes had feelings, they would have been quite frightened by the storm Thursday. In the end, that was something they had to endure in order to reach their full potential. We also have to endure sometimes frightening and uncomfortable storms in order for God to help us blossom to our full potential, not lacking anything.
Finally, let’s remember the message from Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I hope this message has been a blessing to you and I encourage you to go back and read each chapter I’ve mentioned in its entirety.