The blows, they just keep coming.
Over and over, day after day.
You wonder – will this ever end? Will things ever get better? Why am I being pummeled?
Years ago, back when it wasn’t over-grown, full of tall grass and weeds, my husband began a huge garden on his five-acre property.
Day after day, he would go out there, and he would dig into the dirt, cutting it up, removing rocks, trash, weeds, until there was nothing left but soft, supple soil. It was exhausting work, and on a couple of occasions, the kids and I joined in, getting dirty in the process.
But as tiring and grueling and filthy as the work was, once that ground had all been worked, and irrigation was run, we were able to plant seeds, which grew into beautiful and delicious veggies – zucchini, squash, beans, okra, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets… a dozen or more varieties.
The working and tilling of that ground prepared it, softened it, so that it was able to produce food for us, to feed us when we were hungry, to provide nutrition for our growing kids.
This Scripture has struck me more than once:
“For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.” Hebrews 6:7-8
How often do we endure heartache after heartache, trial after trial, and all we can think is, “What in the world is God trying to teach me in this? Doesn’t He think I have learned the lesson yet?”
But what if we could understand a very important part of this Scripture: we are being tilled not only for our own benefit, but for the sake of others.
Your trials, your pain, your heartache – they are softening your ground. They are producing something deep and rooted in you that will then become nourishment and sustaining strength for others around you.
And therein lies the blessing – when you see that your own suffering, your understanding of where someone is – grants them some comfort, some hope, and even the truth they need to walk well whatever path they are on.
As you learn and grow through difficulty, the strength of character and the wealth of knowledge you achieve speaks to others. You become a compassionate person who will reach out and change others’ lives – someone who will share what they have learned, instead of hiding it under a bushel; someone who is soft enough to hurt for the brokenhearted, and go to them, and bind up their wounds; someone who is strong enough to speak truth and bring freedom for those imprisoned.
Your trials are not just for you.
You do have a choice, though. You can allow the seeds to grow into nourishing spiritual food for others, drinking up the rain and becoming beautiful; or, if you decide tilling is not for you, and you have had enough of it, you can allow the thorns and thistles of anger, bitterness, and resentment to choke out the good food the Spirit is producing in you.
But then what does this make us? Scripture says it makes us “worthless, and close to being cursed.” Sounds rather harsh, right? I don’t think He is saying that being tired, and not liking the tilling process is what brings our downfall – none of us actually enjoy trial and tribulation.
When James said to “consider it all joy when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2-3), did he actually mean we have to like it? For sure not. Instead, he was referring to a frame of mind that understands that, when we come out of the other side of our trial, the joy in the end will far outweigh the misery we have endured.
Being unhappy in the midst of suffering is not what produces thorns and thistles in our lives. Rather, it is the stubborn, hard-hearted refusal to learn and grow in response to His work that stunts our growth and makes us unpleasant, and even painful, to be around.
We all know two kinds of people: those who seem to grow only more and more beautiful the more they suffer, and those who become miserable, thorny, toxic, and impossible to live with. Which would you rather be?
I have heard it said over and over, in reference to pain, “God never wastes a hurt.” And although this isn’t a Bible verse, per se, it is as Scriptural as it can be.
Tilling, by nature, is painful. Being cut into, and turned over and over hurts. But God will never waste your hurt. The time you spend in the valley of suffering will not be wasted time. As you continue to endure, through the grace of God alone, His character and beauty will shine ever more radiantly through you, and all men will be drawn to you and to the Jesus they see, the hope of glory in you.
And you will become like a tree,
… planted in the house of the Lord,
You will flourish in the courts of our God.
and you will still yield fruit in old age;
You shall be full of sweetness and very beautiful,
To declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
~ Psalm 92:13-15 (paraphrase mine)
Stay soft, my friend. Learn and grow.
You can trust Him with your heart.
~ M ♥