Weathering the Storm: The Courage to Hope
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
- Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)
As summer transitions into autumn, the trees begin to prepare themselves for nature's marvelous process. The leaves on the trees begin to form a beautiful array of colors from hues of greens, to reds, to oranges and yellows. As if, God took His paintbrush and used the whole country as a canvas. One may think- 'how can something look so beautiful when it's dying?' The weather goes from being sunny to windy and rainy. The wind blows all the leaves off the trees, which causes the beautiful leaves that were on the trees to be on the ground- wet, brown and soggy. As you look at the trees, you notice that they are stripped of all their beauty and bare. Then the cool crisp air of winter begins to creep in, and all the leaves that were on the ground slowly fade away, but the tree still stands- tall, stout and strong. Through snow, sleet, hail, frost and freezing temperatures most trees bend but never break. They know that spring is just a few months away and that they will be restored everything they lost during fall and winter; they will flourish greater than they did before.
At different stages of our lives, God will take us through a process similar to the one that trees go through. For a time, He will allow us to thrive in the spring and summer months, where everything is going in our favor, then gradually, we end up in the fall and winter months, where He allows a storm to begin. Autumn and winter are the seasons in our lives that God begins to strip us of some ways that do not belong in us- habits that are hindering us from growing in Him. These seasons are "character-builder" seasons, which last longer for some than others. During the beginning of these seasons, trusting, and patiently waiting for the Lord can be easy, but as our hope is prolonged, trust can quickly turn into doubt and patience can quickly turn into impatience. We can begin battling emotions that we have never experienced such as depression and anxiety, and sometimes it can seem as if God does not care and God is not there. At times, it can feel like we are losing our minds and are all alone. Part of us wants to give up hope, but another part does not want to. Know this: God does not want us to give up, but He does want us to give what we are hoping for to Him. He wants us to be courageous, to stand and to keep on standing and weather the storm that we are in. Yes, we will sway and yes, we will bend, but God will not allow everything to fall apart. No matter our situation, circumstance, what we lack, or what it looks like, we have to trust and know that our God will bring springtime to what we are hoping for so that we can flourish like a green leaf and be better than whom we were before the storm.
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