Romans 5:3-5 – We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary — we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! (MSG)
The landscape seems so barren, now that the trees have been stripped of their foliage. Yet, I can see so much more: the neighbours' house across the way; the far side of the lake; the dogs as they run through the forest; a beautiful outcropping of rocks; a gnarled tree scarred by storms, now chosen for homes by a multitude of creatures scurrying to hide from my inquiring gaze; the cat stalking his prey; the owl high on a limb; the last hearty wildflower hugging the ground to avoid the night's frost. Yes, the lush beauty and the shade of the leaves has fallen away for a season, but amidst this time of apparent barrenness there is a new fullness, for every season of nature has its own unique glory.
Likewise, within myself, a new depth of spiritual insight and godly maturity have often had opportunity to develop most fully when circumstances stripped me of my foliage — the leaves of my established life. When my health faded, my loved ones disappointed me, my dreams soared and then crashed, I found myself, at first, fighting against a tumult of negative emotion.
Such emotions, when given free rein, sought to hem me in and cut me off from the very thing God was seeking to develop within me: God vision. Pointing me to God things He had already accomplished in my life; God things He was working within me right then; God things yet to be gloriously unfolded in due time — such vision opened my eyes to see so much more about myself, others and Him than I ever realized was there.
Such insight prompted the buds of praise to grow and burst forth as blossoms of peace, hope, joy and patience, as I learned, in time, through the power of His Spirit, to embrace by faith the seasons of apparent barrenness of life.
Prayer: Lord God and gracious Father, grant us alert and watchful spirits amidst the barren seasons of our lives. Grant us eyes to see more of You, Your glory, goodness, power and love, that our hearts may bud afresh with praise for what You have done, what You are doing, and what You have yet to accomplish within us. We ask this all in the wonderful name of Jesus. Amen.