Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise His holy name. For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:4-5
Day in and day out—they just sit there. I work at a church and consequently at the church office. It is good place to work and it’s always nice to work with good people. I was sitting in the outer office and the administrative and ministerial staff were having our daily COVID discussion. I made the comment that if I spoke 1,000 words in one day, at least 800 of them would involve COVID. Sigh.
I was sitting in a chair and I noticed something that I see every day, but for some reason that time it made me stop and think. Next to the chair, on a table in front of the window there are three pots. The pots are amaryllis plants. The plants have grown some long, green leaves but frankly they are, well, unattractive. They don’t look healthy, they don’t look happy—they look like they are just existing.
You might be asking, “Why would anyone want a plant like that?” Well, the answer is quite simple—when it blooms it is in a word, magnificent. Though they come in several colors, the most common is red. My daddy raised them in our southern yard and they were the talk of the neighborhood. I remember he had one that was pure white…I believe it was quite rare. Apparently someone really like it also, because they dug it up and stole it. Daddy wasn’t very happy.
Now these plants we have in the office don’t bloom. They were Christmas gifts to someone, and they bloomed then, but ever since—nothing, just green, saggy, sad leaves. Now I’m not totally sure, but I believe there is a reason. I’ve read that in order for them to bloom they need to hurt. It goes like this. First, you cut the stalk off. Then a little later you stop watering the plant and the leaves die. After that, it goes in a totally dark place for about eight weeks. Finally, after the period of pain, you bring it back into the light and start watering it again and it will bloom again in all its glory. Before the bloom, there has to be a period of pain.
I guess I didn’t realize that when our Creator made us, He could have had an amaryllis plant in mind. You see, it is true that for us to become the beautiful creation God intends us to be—then some pain must come into our lives. Oh, I know, we love the sunny days, but you and I both know without some rain—things would never grow—never bloom. It is also true that during the times in our lives when dryness occurs and darkness overcomes us that two beautiful things happen.
First, we learn to trust our God. It is one of our natural bents that we tend to put God on the back burner when things are going well—especially when they are good for a long time. I suppose this COVID mess has helped a lot of us to grow in our faith, our trust in God. I heard it said once that while the view from the mountain top is beautiful, it is often barren. It is in the valleys where the lush, green forests and meadows grow. So true for us too.
Second, we develop character. Those dark times, those difficult times, steel us and make us strong. You see, character is what you are, what you do when no one else is watching. That is true. Take people off the stage of life and often the real person is nothing like the actor on public stage. When we are going through those “valley of the shadow of death” times, it is there we have the opportunity to grow stronger. It is there when we prepare to once again bloom. Remove the pain and we are like the amaryllis—a few sad, saggy leaves—never truly knowing the fullness and purpose of our God-called life. We need to remember what the Psalmist says, “weeping may last for the night…but joy comes in the morning.”
Well, I hope someone will have the courage to help our flowers bloom again. As they are, they are just part of the landscape of the office but with a little help—they could take center stage. I’m glad there is Someone who is willing to invest in us, who loves us enough to allow some dry times and painful times to help us grow and bloom. This present time may well be one of those times. Maybe we, maybe you, aren’t ready yet but perhaps one day, we will be able to say “thank-you” for all the difficult times in our lives that helped us to blossom. Until then, let’s trust in the Master Gardner, let’s rest in Him…even if it means darkness. Let’s choose to believe—have faith that He’s got this.