Happy Thanksgiving all! We are thankful for all of you who share your children with us; for all of you who have been a part of King's Camp over the years in various roles; and for all of you who support us with your prayers and gifts. May the Lord bless you!
It's the beginning of the holiday season. It's the season to give thanks. Often though it is a time when we are more keenly aware that all is not quite right with the world, that the Kingdom of God is here now but also not yet. For now we see dimly, we know in part but we shall know fully, even as we are fully known. (I Corinthians 13) So there is this tension of what we know is true: Jesus has conquered sin and death, but we still see and live with the effects of sin.
This fall I have been more keenly aware of the struggle. Those close to me have lost loved ones. Dear friends have cried to the Lord as they watch their children struggle with living in a broken world and the many battles they face, whether it be the battle to find their identity in Christ or the battle of living with disease and sickness. I have been more keenly aware of my own battles and the effects of sin and living in a broken world. To be honest, I've never liked that scripture in James that says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)
My motto has typically been "hard is bad and to be avoided at all cost." ...I've learned something this fall though, and from the most unlikely of sources...the cotton plant. I was driving by a cotton field with my husband, Nolan, who happened to comment on a field that we drove past. In essence he said that the cotton in field we were looking at was going to be the most fruitful (produce the most bolls) even though it was planted in what was considered to be some of the more difficult or poorer soil on the farm. "What?!"
He went on to explain. Apparently for many crops including cotton, seeds that are planted in rich soil and that have an easy time growing tend to be tall pretty plants with not much fruit. All the plant’s energy goes into its height. Contrary to logic, the slower the growth, the harder the life of the plant, the tougher the time the plant has growing, the more fruit it produces. It can seem like it’s not growing or producing but slowly, slowly, it’s producing fruit that will be apparent at harvest. The caveat, however, is that the farmer must be more attentive to the crop on poor soil. He must adjust his farming technique, be patient, use proper timing.
So many analogies come to mind as I think about this idea that the most fruitful cotton plants have suffered some sort of hardship. Whereas, the plants grown in the easiest of environments are showy with little fruit. I am reminded of a quote in Scott Peck’s Road Less Traveled, “When we avoid the legitimate suffering that results from dealing with problems, we also avoid the growth that problems demand from us.” Just like the cotton in rich soil with perfect conditions, if we never struggle, we never experience the fruit that comes from the struggle. ( I guess James was right.)
This thought and fact of plant science gives me hope. No struggle is wasted; no pain is wasted; no tear is wasted. If we let God touch and redeem these parts of ourselves even as the farmer tends to his crop and produces a bountiful harvest, these parts of ourselves may become fruitful. Today's struggle may be tomorrow's fruit. I am thankful this season as I meditate on the fact that I serve a God who saw the suffering of Hagar, the Egyptian servant of Sarah, and spoke to her need...We have a God who sees us (Genesis 16:13) and is committed to complete the good work he began in us (Philippians 1:6). He tends to the soil of our hearts. He does not leave us as orphans. He promises to come to us. (John 14) He promises to wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning (Revelation 21)...I am learning that Hard is not bad...He will redeem all things. I am grateful! Happy Thanksgiving!