When Papaya Trees Break
By Peter Lundell
A papaya tree, that's what my wife wanted for so long. And then she got one, planted in the ground and growing. Someday a papaya fruit would grow from it, right there in our own back yard.
One afternoon she was watering the garden, an innocent task, and the hose lay on the other side of the new papaya tree. She needed more hose, so she did what we always do. She yanked.
A fateful yank it was. Rubber against the sapling's trunk gave no mercy to the aspiring plant. That hose snapped the trunk clean off. Left it a sad little stump, and the severed top withered.
We couldn't reattach the parts. The top wouldn't grow new roots. And the hope for a juicy papaya slipped away. We would wait to see if the stump part would grow a new stem. We're still waiting.
You'd never think of a hose being dangerous to a plant—and it's not the only thing that destroys.
Car accidents kill or maim a passenger. Relationships that end badly break a person's heart. Cancer and debilitating diseases gouge a person from the inside. Lost jobs and foreclosed homes crush years of a person's faithful work. Drugs and alcohol, rejection and abuse, devastate families for generations.
The papaya tree was small, hardly noticeable in the yard––just as you and I are small and hardly noticeable in the world. Things in our lives break, and the world goes on obliviously. But just as I watch that severed stump, God watches over us and what may have broken in our lives.
Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NIV).
As we identify ourselves with him, his presence and promise becomes our reality. And we gain hope to overcome.
Remember one more thing about that little tree: Its roots are still in the ground. No matter what happened, the roots are still alive, and that tree can still come back. So can we all.
The Apostle Paul knew hardship all too well. But he also knew how to see beyond it to the Lord's power to lead him through. He said of life in Christ, "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed" (1 Corinthians 4:7-9 NIV).
Failure is not final. Sickness is not final. Disaster is not final. Sorrow is not final. Nothing is final except for Jesus' ultimate triumph over every evil and every agony on this planet.
In heaven there are no tears. Until then, on earth, God's presence is like one who wipes our tears and whispers hope even when the world seems dark. That is when we really see that Jesus is the light of the world.
"Lord, my giver of life, my redeemer and restorer, my strength, my hope, lead me to always keep my roots deep in you that no matter what happens in my life, I will survive—and not only survive, but overcome. . . ."
Copyright 2014, Peter Lundell. Used by permission.
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With a pastor’s heart, Peter Lundell connects people and their life issues to a real God so they can live well in the face of eternal realities. With a quarter century of missionary, pastoral, and teaching experience, he brings new perspectives to interacting with God that most people overlook. He holds an M.Div. and D.Miss. from Fuller Theological Seminary and resides in Southern California. He authors books on Christian spirituality. Visit him at www.PeterLundell.com.
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