We have two plum trees at Blairmore, growing against a wall in our garden. Each year we get a nice harvest of sweet, juicy plums - the joy! But it was not always so. For many years almost no plums appeared. Then one day, when I was helping in the garden, our gardener asked me to prune the plum tree.
I had no idea what I was doing, having just recently arrived at Blairmore and never having done much gardening. So, I cut it back in the way I guessed was best.
Soon complaints came and some people even expressed anger. “Who razed the plum trees like a fire storm? Who destroyed these lovely trees?” Apparently, I had been a tad too enthusiastic in my pruning. And those with knowledge of gardening were convinced the tree was forever wrecked. Oh no!
But the next year an amazing thing happened: they both bore fruit and have done so ever since! This was unpredictable and I can certainly not take any credit, but I was very glad it turned out that way.
If those plum trees, after my clumsy and unskilled interference could bounce back stronger than ever, how much more can we trust the work of God’s skilled and experienced hands! There may be times where He decides to take drastic measures, to cut things back so severely that it does not make any sense to us. All we can say is “Why did this happen? I don’t understand!” Yet we can trust that God’s hand is at work, even when things appear all wrong, whether this in our personal lives or on a larger scale.
Let me give some examples. After the boxer rebellion in China all previous missionary efforts seemed lost as a country was controlled by an oppressive, anti-God regime. Yet it has been in these conditions that the underground church in China has grown to be powerful and numerous beyond belief. Similarly, in countries overrun by radical Islamic regimes, many people have turned away from Islam and searched for Jesus. Even in the West good things are happening. As government restrictions in many countries have made church meetings more difficult, there appears to be a groundswell of enthusiasm in many places for a personal and authentic expression of the Christian faith. God is at work!
Of course, the greatest example of all comes from the Bible. After Jesus had died the disciples thought all was lost. They did not realise at first that what seemed like defeat was in fact God’s greatest victory.
We know that we live in a world full of challenges in which the enemy rages. His time is short. But we must remember that whatever happens is not outside of the scope of God’s knowledge and capable hands. He has promised that, when we seek Him, He will turn everything for good, even if, at first, we cannot even begin to see how that might be possible. His redemptive hand is at work everywhere, even in the midst of incomprehensible situations.
Prayer: Father, I thank You for Your amazing skill in bringing fruit and redemption out of terrible situations. I submit my own life into Your hands and choose to trust You for what You are doing in the world around me. Amen.
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