Joy that Lasts
by Deb Young
I used to love winter, but as I have gotten older it has become more difficult and seems to linger too long. Every spring I anxiously look forward to the blooming of the Cleveland Pear tree in my yard, with it’s beautiful white blossoms signaling Spring is finally here. It refreshes me and brings me joy, so much so that I have often wondered why the Lord has it only last for a short time. I might get to enjoy it for close to two weeks if it is a “good” year and this year it bloomed the Monday before Easter. Then the dreaded winds came and the flowers began to blow off and I became not just disappointed, but angry! One more stripping of joy in the midst of people suffering from Covid-19 and its effects, family and friends living in fear because of it, people I love battling cancer, a beloved pet still trying to get over almost dying, not being able to be with friends suffering, not being able to be with my son and his wife when they found out the gender of my first grandchild! The list could go on and then God! As I sadly watched the blooms blowing to the ground, the Spirit began to show me things. The verse which speaks of Jesus being the vine and us being the branches came to mind and at that moment the tree began symbolizing that. I began to see the flowers as sweet blessings or sources of “joy” in our lives that are lost, in turn causing pain and suffering. When I looked at the ground there were hundreds of single petals, along with whole blossoms and even clumps of 2-3 blossoms. God reminded me that He doesn’t give us more than we can handle. He doesn’t even give all of us the same degree of suffering all at once. Some of the body may not feel like they are suffering, some suffer less at different times, and still others with what seems to be insurmountable pain. He was giving me a visual picture of His goodness and mercy in the varying loss of the flowers. He reminded me that He gave us a family, brothers and sisters in the Lord, who can love one another well in times of suffering. When one of us is hurting more, others are there to encourage and bring God’s love and mercy to light, or just be there to listen, to love. Jesus is the vine; the trunk with roots, He is stable, all powerful and loving, a source of strength and nourishment! The winds could beat on the tree and there was loss, but it still stands. Each year it grows stronger and thicker, more branches appear. The Spirit wasn’t finished though. The source of life and true JOY is to be found in Him and perhaps I needed to re-examine how much I depended on those flowers for “joy”? Had I at times replaced God with His good gifts? I began to re-evaluate where my heart was and again focus on Jesus, not what I had lost, but what I have been given - His love for me and ultimate sacrifice. He needs to be my all! I can feel hurt, cry, lament at the loss in this broken world, but I need to constantly remind myself of the Gospel, that He is indeed Risen, loves me/us with an unending, incomparable love and is redeeming all of this!