We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:4 NLT
We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair. 2 Cor 4:8 HCSB
That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:10 NIV
We usually dig into Bible exposition and related texts and somewhat avoid illustrations, but sometimes it occurs to me that God has built into nature many teachable lessons that we ignore at our peril.
Recently a mailing from Brent Hackett at Our Daily Bread Canada* contained a story I simply could not forget:
A number of years ago I read about an experiment performed in Arizona
with an environmentally controlled climate that was maintained inside
a specially constructed dome. Called Biosphere 2, the ambition of the
project was to copy our planet’s life systems as a prototype for a future
colony on Mars.
However, one of the most profound discoveries had nothing to do with
a new way of farming land. Rather, the discovery brought to light how
important the role of wind is in a tree’s life. The trees in Biosphere 2
grew more rapidly than they did outside of the dome, but they toppled
before they reached maturation. After the scientists reviewed the root
systems and outer layers of bark, they realized that a lack of wind in
Biosphere 2 caused a deficiency of stress wood. Stress wood helps a tree
position itself for optimal sun absorption and helps trees grow more
solidly. Without stress wood, a tree can grow quickly, but it cannot
support itself fully. It can’t stand up to normal wear and tear and
survive. The trees needed some stress in order to thrive.
Similarly in our life, God allows us to experience stress for a reason. We
need to grow strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. If we
were to live our lives in a perfect environment, we might grow, but we
would have a spiritual deficiency. Thankfully, we are different than trees.
We do have the ability to grow, but we also have the ability to enjoy a
relationship with our eternal God.
One of the hardest things for me is to be able to accept stressful situations as a gift from God. I simply do not bear stress well.
In Phillipians 4, Paul writes,
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
The illustration of the stress wood in the trees really impact me this week. Paul learned the secret of contentment in the middle of those times the winds are blowing because he understood the principle he states so clearly in Romans 8:28, which J.B. Phillips translates as
Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.
This the promise we are given, that God, who sees the events in our lives beyond the constraints of linear time by which we measure things is orchestrating a beautiful symphony of goodness.
Not seeing that in your own life? I know. It’s difficult. We can give intellectual assent to God’s goodness, but not want the winds to blow.
But today’s illustration powerfully reminds us that given a life without stress, we would eventually just topple over.
Christianity 201 is mobile friendly; if you’re traveling bookmark the site and check us out on your phone or tablet.
* For American readers, here’s the link to Our Daily Bread USA.