Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Lilac's Agony and Joy

A short time ago, I was reading about how lilac bushes are able to thrive despite harsh winter conditions. This information interested me as we have several lilac bushes on our property as well as very cold winters in the area where we live in the upper Midwest. Through the winter months, the ground is iron, covered over with snow. The cold and wind are brutal, the temperatures plummeting into the negatives for days at a time.

And yet, in the warm early days of spring, the lilac bushes begin to bloom. Frozen and dead to the world during the winter, in the spring their lavish blooms delight the earth with beauty. They emanate a most delightful scent; the air is filled in the spring with the sweet aroma of lilac blooms. They are a treat to the eyes and to the heart that has been rendered winter-raw.

My children gather these blooms in the spring and use them to adorn their sandbox confections and creations. They love to climb into the lower branches of their aged arms. Their lovely smell always delights me as I hang laundry to dry outside in the sweet spring wind. I marvel at the splendor that the Lord has clothed just one lilac bush in!

Their beauty appears most radiant after the harshest months of the year. I am reminded how the Lord often brings us through trials and discouragements in order to strengthen and test our faith. He desires that beauty in our lives will shine through these hardships and reflect the spring grace of our Creator, the Father of mercy and redemption and the One who brings life from death.

Just as the lilac endures to the end of winter, so we are also called to endure the trials that He brings into our lives. Hebrews 12:9-12 says,

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

He calls us to endure—through His enabling strength. He brings beauty out of pain and hardship in our lives when we submit and yield to Him. He promises the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” when we are trained by His hand through trials and chastenings.

These chastenings do not seem pleasant at the time (Hebrews 12:11), but in the end they bring forth the marvel of His grace in our lives when we have been softened and molded by them.

Just as the lilac bush bears beautiful blooms in the spring, so will our lives show forth His beauty through the testing and trials that He lovingly sends us as a Father who wants His children to bear fruit when we yield in surrender to His Fatherly discipline and love. 

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