And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations,
knowing that tribulation produces perseverance
and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
~ Romans 5:3-4 (NKJV) ~
This weekend we had storms that brought lightning and thunder. It was cold, dark, and moist, but by mid-Sunday morning, the sun was out and its warmth felt good. This morning, I woke up to howling winds a little after 4 am and closed the windows that were open. I was able to go back to sleep, but when I woke up, the winds sounded more like stationary jets revving their engines. The winds were steady at 22 mph, but the gusts were even stronger at about 45 mph!
When I looked out the living room window, one tree was down and it looked like another was about to topple over. As I looked at the downed tree, I saw that a combination of things had made it fall: The rains softened the earth and the tree roots were shallow.
The Romans 5 verses were sent to me by a friend last week, and they came to mind as I looked at the tree. My relationship with and trust in the Lord determines whether I’ll be able to “glory in tribulations.” If it’s not strong and I haven’t grown in the knowledge of who He is, then I won’t have strong and long roots to keep me in place.
Billy Graham said, “The Christians of the early church believed that ‘the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us’ (Romans 8:18). Thus they could regard present difficulties as of little consequence and could endure them with patience and cheerfulness.” I ask myself, then, “Do I? Will I be able to stand strong in the Lord, or topple when the strong winds of adversity come into my life?”
This afternoon, the maintenance crew came and cut up the tree, but placed the stump back into the ground. God is gracious, kind, loving, and merciful; He’ll make sure to place us upright and replant us in Himself. I have to remember, too, to not grow prideful nor deceive myself into thinking that I can handle any situation He allows in my life. I can only be assured of one thing, God is with me and for me. He has promised to abide in me as I abide in Him. This tree stump will be a constant reminder that in myself is no strength nor ability to stand in adversity, but that in Christ, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Father, we look to You because You’re mindful of us and care for us, as Psalm 8:4 says. We ask that You give us eyes to see the things that You allow to “befall” us, with Your eyes, so that we can “glory in tribulations,” develop perseverance, character, and hope. May we know that we know that You’re present with us and will get us through the adversities You allow to come into our lives. May we also know that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Firmly plant us, Father, by the streams of living water, that we may in due season, bear good fruit, for Your glory and honor and praise (Psalm 1:3). In the name of Jesus, amen.
The translation for this song is (note, there are variations):
How Shall We Repay? How shall we repay such immense love— giving up your life for sinful men? In return you receive this humble offering, this humble offering, Lord Jesus, that comes from my heart. This humble offering, Lord Jesus, that comes from my heart. When night’s mantle comes upon us, my teary eyes I’ll fix upon you. Looking up, I’ll see the stars, knowing that beyond them, as a loving Father, you watch over me. Knowing that beyond them, as a loving Father, you watch over me. I can’t repay you with silver or gold, for such sacrifice on my behalf. I’ve got nothing to give you for loving me so much; receive this song, along with my tears, as well as my heart. Receive this song, along with my tears, as well as my heart.