This past summer, Chris had purchased a beautiful hanging basket for me. The flowers were vibrant colors of the sun: orange, yellow, and red. We watched the vines spill over the sides of the basket for days, but then the plant took a turn for the worst.
You see, I don’t seem to have a green thumb (a.k.a. I oftentimes forget to water plants). After several days without water, this once beautiful basket had shriveled up. To me the leaves looked dead; I was ready to throw it out. But where I saw death, Chris saw life. He coerced me not to throw it away, even agreeing that he would take over the care of the plant.
I watched as he watered it and pruned away what portions were dead. And then I watched amazed as that plant sprung back to life! It didn’t look the same: some of the roots had to be removed and so it looked more thin, but the flowers now growing from that one root were more vibrant and alive than before. Immediately I knew that this simple, seemingly mundane thing in nature was teaching me a more valuable about life.
Life can leave you feeling like there is no hope.
Life is difficult. We don’t always ask for the complexities and challenges that are thrown our way. And sometimes they seem to come all at the same time. Sometimes the challenges come of our own accord because we’re not feeding (or watering) the right things.
There is always hope.
The most unique thing about this plant is that some of the roots were killed - but one remained. You see, I’ve learned in my life that life is a sequence of deaths - putting to death the things that have taken our focus off of the Lord. Scripture is very clear that we must be dead to sin and alive to Christ (Romans 6:11). When life feels hopeless, we’re almost always focused on the problems rather than the God who is mighty to save. There is hope - and it comes when we choose to focus on He who can mend. God is mighty to bring transformation whether we ask for it or not.
The end product may look different, but it’s better.
The thing that I just can’t get over about that plant is that two of the three roots died, but the one that survived looked more amazing - the flowers more beautiful than before. And it’s then that the Holy Spirit was revealing to me something essential to finding peace in the middle of hardships.
Life is difficult, but if we cling to the Lord, He will bring about greater beauty than before. When something is taken from us that we value or when - by the grace of God - we choose to lay down interests, desires, or idols we can then focus more holistically on our greatest purpose: glorifying God so that others may see Him through us.
The words of Psalm 86 come back to me here: “give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” It’s not about what we can see but what God can see.
Our God restores! But there is no benefit to staring into our lives discontentedly, longing for the past. We must fix our eyes on Jesus and allow Him to do the restorative work needed in our lives.
Isaiah 43:18-19 reminds us: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” We serve a God who is never hopeless, never defeated, never beaten down by life. He has overcome! He is triumphant, and He will work in our lives to bring beauty from the ashes. Because when we see death, He sees life.