Spring in South Carolina bursts forth even when it’s seemingly too cold for rebirth. Over the past few weeks, a variety of green shoots have emerged through the soil in the landscape areas around our home. In particular, I have watched delicate grass-like stems slowly rise through the mulch around a tree in our backyard. Days passed before yellow and purple buds blossomed into delicate flowers. But bloom they did, and the tiny crocus continue to bloom.
Spring flowers show such perseverance and strength in the midst of cold wintry seasons that become long and difficult. Flowers often sprout through adversity with little in their favor. Even through cold temperatures they seek strength from the sun and prepare to reflect God’s beauty in bloom and fragrance. Why? Because that is how God made them—to be resilient and to push through knowing they were made for a purpose for a season. Within every flower’s effort to flourish, there’s a determined HOPE on display.
At times, I find it very hard to push through when things are not in my favor. It’s easy to allow obstacles to alter my focus to the point I begin viewing a current situation with dismay. In taking my eyes off the source of my strength, my hope diminishes. I am sure this is true for all of us at one time or another. The challenges become overwhelming, and we fall into a state of stagnation unable to bloom where we are planted.
When I think of the fragile crocus that push through soil cold in temperature, possibly hardened over time, or missing proper nutrients to ensure growth, I am visualizing HOPE in action. They persevere through harsh conditions to carry out what they are meant to do. Each of us is one of God’s creations made for a purpose and for a time to bloom where we are planted. How can we become better at pushing through adversities that exist in our lives? I believe recognizing what diminishes hope and hinders us can actually help us thrive. Take a moment to consider if any of these conditions exist in your life.
1) A harsh environment.
Over time, our surroundings may harden–trodden down by the storms of life. The nutrients we need to thrive become toxic when we continuously hear disapproving words, believe critical judgments, or engage in destructive behavior. Even in dormant times while seemingly going nowhere, feelings of apathy can lead us deeper away from purpose. When it’s time to move onward and upward, there’s little motivation to push through–no strength for growth.
2) Built up resentment from cultivating a harm done or guilt.
Failing to practice forgiveness is a drain on you spiritually, mentally and physically. The longer unforgiveness builds up, the more resentment builds up and the guilt becomes corrosive. Like unfertile soil, it can eventually lead to bitterness that takes root in your soul…holding you back, making sprouting tough. You may eventually push through, but the weakened new growth will not flourish.
3) Occupied with disintegrating self-talk.
It’s like being stuck in the mud unable to move away from limiting personal beliefs or the falsities that others have spoken. Our minds become closed, trapped in believing worst case scenarios. Thoughts become burdened with misfortune, victim mentality, and scarcity. Growth becomes motionless and the way forward appears hopeless.
Throughout our lives, there will always be struggles and challenges along the way, but do we lose our purpose when they come to visit? Or are we going to allow God into that situation or trial? Are we going to thrive where we are planted regardless of the circumstances?
I appreciate the truth spoken in Romans 5: 3-5:
3 “We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, 4 endurance brings God’s approval, and his approval creates hope. 5 This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us.”
As a child of God, we must remember that God has a plan for each one of our lives. Our identity is found in Christ–not in our environment, emotions, or thoughts. We are made to desire growth and become more Christ-like. The maturing may seem easy when all goes well. Then life throws an unwanted or unexpected hindrance at us which can stunt our growth. Because God is always working, we should not allow troubles to keep us from developing. We should allow the difficulties to help build character. By maintaining growth, we receive God’s approval which deepens our trust in the Lord. Each step toward gaining His approval blesses us with the HOPE that does not disappoint.
Before you or I walk into a trial or challenge, God is aware of the situation. He is in our midst and has the solution we need. We should anticipate His help knowing there are options. God provides the fertile soil we need in order to push through and then to flourish. That is the power of HOPE—recognizing that the Lord is always faithful and has a great love for you and me. The Lord does not promise the way will be easy, but He will not disappoint. He desires for us to flourish wherever we are planted in spite of the conditions.
My desire is for each one of you to flourish where you have been planted. Trusting God through this season of renewal. Just Kathy