It’s most likely not what you are thinking, but just maybe I’ve caught your attention! I have a tree in my garden which has evolved through a season of recovery, after a rather severe pruning last winter. Gradually new shoots, leaves, twigs and branches began to appear; and then the much-anticipated buds and flowers. I gave special care and attention to the watering regime of this tree, especially through the hotter months in the hope of a good yield of fruit. Finally, it was time to reap the harvest. I went out to the tree, with a bucket in hand but it was not as I had hoped. The fruit this year was quite small with only a few large pieces, which the birds had already enjoyed. What remained were small to medium in size. The small ones went straight into the green wheelie bin and I was left with around 30 pomegranates which was rather disappointing, to say the least.
Not put off by the task at hand, I brought them in and began the process. I washed them and cut them into quarters; I carefully extracted the arils into a bowl of water, and then strained them. After an hour and a half, I had exactly one kilo of arils of varying shades of crimson. I then put them into a food processor for a minute; this was followed-up by pressing the now seedy pulp through a sieve, to extract the juice; then after pouring the juice through a finer sieve, I bottled it. And what did I end up with? Very dirty hands, stains on my clothes, many splashes of pink on the windowsill and three cups of pomegranate juice. So, was it worth the effort when I can buy a litre of pomegranate juice at the supermarket for around $5.50? Hmmm. Well, the answer is an emphatic “YES”. With no sugar added, it is tart but flavoursome and I am drinking it very slowly, savouring each delightful mouthful. It was an arduous process for a small but good drop of red.
The rhythm of life can be this way. We wait, we prepare, we anticipate; we work hard, and what we end up with is not what we had hoped for. The investment does not pay the dividends we had banked on. We end up sick, in spite of rigorously pursuing a healthy lifestyle. The relationship ends, despite promises made. The dream job turns into a nightmare. Add your own experience here, we’ve all had them. Hard as it may be to find, in everything we experience through life there will be an element of good to be extracted. I don’t say this glibly, as I know all too well that we can find ourselves in the midst of earth-shattering situations that are dark and bleak; life can appear pointless, hopeless and irreparable. Perhaps, it is going to take a very long time for ‘the good’ to be seen or felt, and maybe not this side of heaven. But I believe 100% that God does not waste anything.
Let’s look at Jesus… On the darkest day in the history of the world, His precious blood was spilt at Calvary. Hope faded and fear prevailed as the ground shook and the heavens thundered grief, guilt and terror gripped the hearts of those who watched, as Jesus’ torn, broken and bloodied body hung on the cross. Surely, this was not how it was supposed to end. What possible good could evolve from such an atrocity? “We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (see 2 Cor. 4:7-18)
These powerful verses show us how we can identify with Jesus in our own suffering and also how Jesus identifies with us. He was not housed in a crystal palace and wrapped in cotton wool whilst here on earth. He did life tough. He experienced homelessness, rejection, the death of friends, capped off by the ultimate betrayal. Yet He pushed through. He stayed the course. He did not lose heart, and neither should we.
PRAYER: Thank You, Jesus, that the cross was not the end of the story. Thank You that a great time of celebration in heaven awaits those who love You; when finally, all of life’s experiences will make sense to us. Help us to hold on to You; to trust You; to look upward. Thank You that You know how hard life can be and that You want to walk each step of the journey with us to the bitter-sweet end. Help us to savour Your life-giving gift, ‘the divine drops of red’ with deep love and gratitude as we consider all that they cost You. AMEN.
SONG: New Wine (Hillsong) https://youtu.be/xqYxc5uFKQo