Weeping with Those Who Weep

We pulled on our snow pants and jackets, zipped up the zippers, donned the hats and mittens, and with sturdy boots on our feet, began the long walk up the hill to the grocery store.

With a 5 year old up ahead and a 2 year old in tow, I had plenty of time to admire the scenery in the neighbourhood on this particularly chilly morning with no promise of spring in the air. It was one of those mornings that was just warm enough for a long walk and just cold enough to remind you of the polar vortex from weeks ago. As we made our way past the familiar landmarks of the various types of trees that make their home on our street, it wasn’t the spindly and barren ones that so often grab my attention at other times of the year. They had no sprouting blossoms or changing leaves to marvel at. On that winter day, it was the mighty evergreen that caused me to be amazed.

Remarkable. Towering several feet into the air, sending its roots deep into the ground below and across multiple yards, standing tall and unchanged in the bracing north winds that blow dead leaves off of every other tree in the neighbourhood. The snow piles high and the branches bear the weight. The temperatures plummet and the thousands of needles hold fast, only made more beautiful by the silvery frost that highlights each individual one.

Winter really is the evergreen’s time to shine, isn’t it?

In no other season of the year do I take much notice of its thick, velvety branches providing shelter and comfort to critters and birds. The coldest months are made bearable by its dense design, offering the hope of a warm place to sleep when all other trees are bare.

My heart is broken today as I think of two families who are in the process of losing children to paediatric cancer. Treatment options have been exhausted and the disease is progressing through their small bodies moment by moment. Jesus, be near these precious ones and hold them in your arms! Surround their parents and siblings, be the strength of their hearts in the darkest of times!

When our lives fall apart, when the lives of those we love are changed forever because of loss, we know that we have the light of Jesus’ life flowing through us. We are comforted by God himself! We become like the mighty evergreen, holding out hope in the midst of despair.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25 NIV)

Yes Lord, we believe! Let us weep with those who are weeping today, and be a place of comfort because we have been comforted in our own times of trouble by Your very presence.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)

evergreen afar

Evergreens standing tall

Surprise

I chose a sky blue shirt and a bright yellow coffee mug this morning in defiance of the grey, windy day out my window. When I first set foot outside I could smell the ice releasing its grip on the world, but I know it can’t last. It is only February after all. The temperatures are mild for the moment, and in just a few hours the clouds will roll in and bring a fresh layer of clean, white snow to play in. It will be at least a month before we really start to see the melt last longer than a moment or two, but I love the little reminders that you can’t hold back spring.

A few weeks ago I picked up a potted mixed-bulb mini garden. I was desperate for a burst of fresh, bright colour and these shy irises, long daffodils and fragrant hyacinths were ready for their big show! I shelled out the few bucks required and covered them carefully as I carried them to the car in the freezing cold air, hoping they would survive the ride home.

Thankfully, they did. I placed them at centre stage on top of the piano and left them alone to shine. The very next day, the daffodils had grown another few centimetres. Wow I thought. This plant is really bringing its A game! Not to be outdone, the hyacinth pushed itself out so far that it began to lean to the side. I had visions of an old science fiction movie where the unsuspecting lead character buys a lovely plant from a strange old lady and then brings it home only to find it has taken over her house the next morning! The next day I walked past the mini-garden, which was becoming less than mini every day. I stopped and turned around. What in the world?! Two bright yellow and orange tulips were shooting up past the covering of their green leaves.

I had no idea there were tulips in the garden at all!

How was this thing growing so fast? I watched it for a moment, at once realizing it was silly to expect to actually see the plants lengthen before my very eyes. But every time I looked back at it, it was taller, fuller, longer and brighter.

Amazing how things grow when we’re not paying attention. Suddenly, flowers burst into bloom that you didn’t even know were there.

What a truly wonderful surprise.

In John 15, Jesus says that He is the Vine and that we are the branches, and that if we truly want to live, we need to stay connected to Him.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5 NIV)

All the good things we see flowing through our lives are because of Jesus. Any bit of sacrificial love, greater joy, deeper peace, wider patience, extravagant kindness and goodness, steadfast faithfulness, incredible gentleness and self-control are all because of Christ. When we stay connected to the Vine, drawing our source of life from Him, we will experience His beauty overflowing in the most unexpected ways and most surprising places.

Isn’t that just the most incredible thing you’ve heard today?

tulip

A lovely surprise