Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. --James 1:2-4
The Tamiami Trail is a long, straight highway across Florida’s south Everglades. When I drove it with a friend, I was struck by the wild, rugged, oddly beautiful pine trees dotting the landscape. My friend called them Caribbean Pines; they are stunning against a south Florida sunset. Unlike tall straight pines, they are wiry, contorted and primitive-looking. Caribbean Pines routinely withstand long periods of drought, fire, and they hold their own against the fiercest of hurricanes. In fact, these particular trees seem to love a rugged environment. They cannot tolerate cultivation. When they are protected, planted in a yard and given water and fertilizer, they often die. Experts can’t pinpoint why Caribbean Pines do best in the wild, but they know enough to warn landscapers against using them in a decorative, cultivated setting.
We are like Caribbean Pines. Our souls usually don’t thrive during good times. Our hearts grow complacent, our need of God becomes less urgent, our hope of heaven dims and our prayer life often dries up. We may be planted in a beautiful setting with our needs met and every resource at our fingertips, but our soul shrivels. It seems we need an occasional blast of storm or fiery trial, if our faith is to mature.
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Are you in a hurricane? Experiencing a drought? A fiery trial? You certainly don’t need to ask God to bring on the hardships, but you can ask Jesus for a closer walk with him in the midst of the difficulties you are experiencing (I would guess there are plenty of them). As you hold on to Jesus today, your soul will thrive both in good times and bad.