The seed contains the blessings of life. It is so small, so frail, yet it produces vegetables, fruit, trees, flowers – all wonderful nutrition from which we thrive. However, does the seed know this when we plant it in the ground? Does it understand how strong and beautiful it will be after its season under the earth? I am not a seed but I think if it did know what it would become, its dark and mucky hole would not be seen as a place of punishment, rather as a place of preparation for maturity and growth.
We can learn much from the seed. Looking at its life helps to understand what James meant when he said, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” – James 1:2-3. For just as the seed, abundant life can be the result from our “valley” or season of hardship.
To have joy in my suffering has been one of the hardest struggles. It is possible to put a smile on your face so those around you feel you are alright, but joy is more than a smile. Joy is feeling triumphant, rejoicing, and having a great sense of pleasure and delight. It could just be me, but I rarely get excited when my life is hard. I usually feel sad, frustrated, and have a woe-is-me attitude. I ask God why this is happening. I try everything I can to fix the problem so my life can go back to being normal. In other words, if I was a seed, I would desperately want to get out of that ground and return to my comfort zone.
The Day I Was Planted in the Ground
A great example of this is what happened to me a few years ago. In June of 2012, I was in my first car accident. My neck and back was injured and I could not work at my job for months. The accident happened two weeks after I had signed myself up for a mission trip to Israel in November. I felt so strongly that God wanted me to go on this trip but when the accident happened, I couldn’t see how that would be possible. Not only was I physically injured, I only had $10 in my account! I had planned to work during the summer to pay for the trip. What a mess!
The first few weeks were the worst. I was in constant pain, I could not sit more than 10 minutes, and almost every night, through tears, I begged God to heal me. Also, I knew the first payment for the trip was coming up soon. How was I going to pay for this trip when I could barely get out of the bed? Did I hear from God wrong? Was this a sign that I was not supposed to go? Am I being punished for something? I was so confused. I could not understand why God allowed this to happen.
Then something amazing took place. My friend’s mom got in touch with me asking if I could build her a website. I was studying to be a web developer but I had yet to graduate. I accepted, though I had never built a website for a real client, because this was a job I could do from my bed! There is a saying, “God works in mysterious ways.” That was proven true that summer. Two weeks later, I got another call from a lady who knew a different friend of mine and she asked if I could also build her a website. A month went by and another person asked for a website. God gave me three jobs. It was incredible!
Israel was (literally) my promise land, and God did for me what He did for Moses at the Red Sea, He completely made a way for me to go.
However, it was not without its difficulties. After four months, amazingly I had more than enough for my trip but I was still struggling with the pain in my body. My chiropractor said it would be another year or two before my back would be fully recovered. Although, I was so desperate for a miracle, I ignored my chiropractor’s advice to stay home and went on the trip in faith.
When I was Hopeless, He was Faithful
In Israel, after multiple hikes, bus rides, and long days, my body was screaming for me to stop. It was the seventh day and my group and I were in a meeting at our hotel. I could barely listen to the pastor because my back was in such pain. I was just about to leave the meeting and go to my room when the pastor stopped preaching and said, “God is showing me that there is someone in this room who has been in a car accident and now has a compressed spine in their lower back and their neck is completely out of alignment. If that is anyone here, can you raise your hand?” Another guy raised his hand so I thought, “Oh, that must not have been for me.”
You may think, “Of course that was for you!” but you have to understand, by that time, I was discouraged. It had been seven days, and I was still injured. I was beginning to tire of fighting to be healed and going to healing meetings, only to be disappointed when I was still in pain. I wanted to be better but I protected my heart from more disappointment by reasoning that maybe one day, if God wanted it, than perhaps I would be healed, but until then, this is my life and I have to accept it. Thankfully, my roommate fought for my encounter and she told me to get up there and let him pray for me.
Unenthusiastically, I went up and after praying for the other man, the pastor prayed for me but nothing happened. So, I thanked him and was about to return to my seat when he asked to pray again. He wouldn’t let me go that easily. This time, I felt less pain and was amazed. Again, I thanked him and was leaving but he said God wanted me 100% healed so he prayed one last time…
Suddenly, there was no longer pain in my back and my neck was completely back to normal. It was a miracle.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The Seed and the Sower
This is the amazing testimony I have had the privilege of sharing for three years now. However, the happy ending to my story was not found in the miracle, but in the journey. He stretched my faith, grew me in perseverance and taught me a lot about His character. Princesses, I can tell you with absolute certainty, He is worthy to be trusted. My only regret was that I did not trust Him more during that time.
If we are the seed, He is the Sower. He can see well beyond our season of darkness. We may feel alone and confused, but He sees where we will be when this is over. He will plant us, and we may feel our shell break (our comfort zone), and our roots begin to stretch down beneath us. This is perseverance and it is our foundation on which we flourish and grow. We are to rejoice in this truth. The challenge is to be joyful during that season, not only after the storm has passed.
Exactly two weeks ago from today, on March 27th, I was in another car accident. Princesses, the first thought that came to my mind when the car was smashing into mine was, “Oh no, not again!” I still had to drive home that night and began to cry as I felt my back spasm with pain. You can not imagine how devastated I was in that moment.
However, a few days after the accident (after my woe-is-me stage) I decided this will not be like last time. I will not ask God why this happened nor blame Him. I will trust Him and not worry about tomorrow. As my good friend told me recently, we only have enough grace for this day. My questions have turned from “why” to “what” and “who”.
What are you doing within me God?
What do you want to teach and show me?
Who can I help or encourage during this season?
Yes, I have once again been planted within the ground, but this time, I have joy. Each day I wake up, my neck and back hurt, but I thank Him and I am beginning to get excited because I know from experience, God is preparing to do something beautiful within me. I only have to have patience and trust in the Sower.
On a side note – asking the “who” is important because I have learned when our life is hard, we tend to forget the verse in Mark 12:31 that says “Love your neighbor as yourself” and we make excuses that we are going through too much to help anyone right now. Never be too busy or too involved in yourself and your own issues that you forget to love those around you. Not that you have to bend over backwards and make your life worse for the sake of another, but remember that God’s power is made perfect in your weakness. Don’t limit yourself to helping only you. I know you may feel you only have strength to help yourself but allow your ears to be open to God’s voice and you will be surprised that when He is with you, you can do more than you think.
1 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Choosing to Trust
Princesses, I do not know what your life is like right now. You may be feeling strong and victorious, or weak and defeated, but whatever season you are in, may you choose to trust in God. I would say “may you choose to have joy”, but in all honesty, joy is simply the result of putting your hope in Jesus (Romans 5:2-5). As James explained, joy comes from knowing that you are being perfected when your faith is tested. You can only have such certainty in Christ.
Princesses, you may feel like a tiny seed, but take heart and trust in what God is doing. One day, you are going to become like a mighty oak tree; strong, not easily shaken, founded and deeply rooted in your faith in God, and most importantly, overflowing with glorious and contagious joy.
p.s. I added a prayer to the Prayer Wall after the accident. If you could keep me in prayer I would so appreciate it! :D