“For there is hope for a tree,
If it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that its tender shoots will not cease.
Though its root may grow old in the earth,
And its stump may die in the ground,
Yet at the scent of water it will bud
And bring forth branches like a plant.” -Job 14:7-9, NKJV
About a year and a half ago, my husband planted a tree in our backyard near our house. We were hoping it would grow up to provide a little shade in that spot. Shade’s a valuable commodity in Texas on a hot, summer day.
A few months after we planted it, though, a child knocked it down. Its little trunk snapped close to the ground. We thought our tree was done for.
But then it grew back!
And then my husband accidentally ran over it with the lawn mower.
And then it grew back!
Then we had some construction done in our backyard, and the workermen dragged something heavy over the little tree and broke it again.
Guess what? It grew back.
When my husband accidentally ran over it with the lawn mower again, though, he decided that spot must be a bad one for a tree. He pulled up what was left of it, thinking that was the end of that.
But the little tree is back!
Perhaps we should give it a name. I think it’s here to stay. I’m going to call it Phoenix.
I asked God to give me the resilience of this little tree. But then I realized that’s a scary prayer! In order to develop resilience, we have to be cut down, broken, knocked over, pulled up by the roots. We have to have a reason to grow deep roots and fight for our lives. I’d rather read a book.
Yet I know that God is building resilience in me. He has been doing so all of my life. He does this for you, too! And not by accidentally knocking us over or cutting us off at the ground. He is quite intentional about allowing all-consuming challenges to come our way. I know this is not for our harm, though, but for our good and His glory.
If life knocks us down and we stay down, that doesn’t do anyone any good. But if we call on God for His strength, our roots in Him grow deep, making us more resilient. Eventually we overcome harsh circumstances and grow firmly into what God intended for us to be. People see and know that God brought us through and grew us strong. They may even seek shade from the harsh sun under our branches where we can tell them about the God Who loves them, died for them, and wants to grow them up strong, too.
I don’t like praying scary prayers. When I catch myself praying them, I sometimes stop and say, “What am I praying?!” I’m tempted to take the prayer back. The older I get, the stronger this temptation can be because prayer becomes more and more scary. I’m no longer praying naive. Yet I must keep praying. It’s what connects me to God. It’s how I surrender myself to His Will. It’s how my life roots grow deep, so my branches grow stronger still.
Sometimes I don’t much like the immediate results of scary prayers. But I love what God does with them when He is through! For that, for Him, I choose to trust as I pray.
Father, please give us the courage to pray scary prayers, so we can grow up in You. Remind us to focus on the work You are doing in us instead of on distressing or uncomfortable circumstances. You are worthy of our trust. You are doing something amazing. We believe in You. Amen.