In our back yard we have two rather substantial ornamental pear trees. After standing bare for months in the cold rain they are now starting to feel the gentle warmth of the sunshine. Bright white blossom and fresh green leaves are starting to appear. Soon the whole tree will be covered in blossom. While it looks stunning during the day, it looks even more spectacular at night under flood lights against the black sky.
Spring is such an encouraging time of year – after months of cold and rain the arrival of warmer days signs of new life and new hope are everywhere. Plants are bearing buds, windows that have been sealed shut for months can now be opened, more people are out for a walk, and for many the sun is now up when we commute to work and back. The warmer weather and longer days can literally put a spring in our step.
Life has seasons as well. Sometimes things are going really well and then suddenly it comes in hard and tough. That’s normal. But it is during the wintery times of life that God can teach us to be more dependent on him, to be trusting of him more deeply and to be more sure of the hope he offers. Times of trial are like the cold rain, which in time can bring out the wonderful fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
While the warm Spring weather might drive away the annoying mud puddles in my back yard, its not going to drive away the new trials we face each day. I believe the trick is though, to use the times of trial to grow closer to God so that the fruits of his Spirit may grow and shine all the more brightly through us.
So when you are tempted to complain, use it as a prompt to pray for patience. When someone annoys you, use it as a prompt to respond with kind word. When get that moment when you feel as though you are just so busy, use it as a prompt to recall a favourite Bible text and draw on the hope or promise it offers.
Martin Luther wrote that temptation, ‘is the touchstone that teaches you not only to know and understand, but also to experience how right and true, how sweet and lovely, how powerful and comforting God’s word is, wisdom above all wisdom’ (1539, Preface to the Wittenberg Edition of his German writings).
Who knows what trials are awaiting us today, tomorrow or next week? But we do know that as we take those trials to God, he can use them to make his ‘fruit’ bloom and grow through us.
Spiritual & Cultural Leader