(Jesus said) "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near." Matthew 24:32
This weekend was a nice time for my family to get an artificial touch of summer with a trip to the Arboretum. We try to take these trips whenever we can get away.
Besides quality family time, it was also a learning experience for me.
I found out that because of the proper mixture of sun, rain, and temperature, rainforest trees grow very quickly. That's good. Because of their soft wood, these same trees also die very quickly as they are ravaged by insects and disease.
In contrast, the trees up north -- buffeted by winds, storms, ice, and snow -- grow strong and are hardened to life's difficulties.
I'd say the trip was educational, because I quickly ended up applying what I learned about trees to people.
It seems those who have a difficult time in life, who don't escape life's problems and pains, grow stronger. They may not like the climate in which they grew up or the conditions under which they are surviving, but the Lord can make them into people that are very solid, usable, and moldable for His use.
On the other hand, those who have never had any difficulties can readily fall into discouragement when something unpleasant unexpectedly arises.
That's something as Christians we might do well to remember, especially if our lives aren't growing well. The Lord may be using these adversities to shape us into people with a great deal of value.
From a devotion originally written for "By the Way"
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, do what is necessary so I may be grown into a solid and faithful servant of the Savior who sacrificed Himself so I might live. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries