In last week’s blog (here) I said that God wants us flourish. But what if you don’t feel that you are flourishing. Why is that?
For some of us we need to understand the season we are in. If we think of a tree in winter it is bare, no fruit or leaves are evident. It looks almost dead BUT how it looks is not an accurate gauge of what is going on inside. It is still flourishing as it is storing up energy for the growth of fruit in later seasons. In the Spring there is new growth but it is not yet established and strong, it can be a time of vulnerability but those new shoots will grow into mature growth in time. In the Summer there is obvious mature growth with flowering and fruit. Then comes the Autumn and the leaves fall, the season has passed and with it their usefulness; there will need to be new leaves for a new season. In all of these seasons the tree is still flourishing but it is expressed differently in each of them. We need to know which season we are in.
Or it may be that you are not happy with how things are for you. Many of us live our lives with a perceived need. We are always wanting something we feel we must have in order to be happy which makes us feel discontented and unhappy.
Sometimes we look at our circumstances and compare them with others’. We may think that they have a better life, nicer house, better job, children, are able to take holidays, have more friends than we do etc We can questions ourselves
“ What is wrong with me that God doesn’t bless me? Or question God “Is He really good?
When our boys were young, Rob, my husband, was out of work for 18 months. We happened to live in an affluent area but had bought quite a rundown Edwardian terraced house. I saw other people decorating their homes with Laura Ashley wallpaper (the fashion at the time) and restoring original features. I didn’t compare myself with other people but I did compare our home to theirs. I felt ashamed of our threadbare carpets and woodchip wallpaper and didn’t want people to come into our house. I needed to remind myself that God had enabled us to buy this house. We lived hand to mouth for some time but were also supported by friends from our church in many different ways. Groceries would be left on our doorstep, some friends put money into our bank account every month so that we could pay our mortgage and gifts of money were regularly posted through our letterbox. This was a time when we really learned to live by faith, to trust God for our finances and to learn to give to others in need. If we had not gone through that experience we would never have learned these valuable lessons. We were flourishing but not in the way we expected it to happen.
Sometimes we may be facing particularly challenging circumstances You could ask me how that could possible be described as flourishing. I believe that God wants us to flourish in and through suffering, that is why He is with us when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23)
I have written about my own experience of having breast cancer (here) when God truly sustained me and helped me to understand that he is always good to me whatever my circumstances. I wasn’t miraculously healed of cancer, I still had surgery etc but my Father was with me in it.
Flourishing does not equate to being happy all of the time. There will be a day when we will truly flourish when Jesus comes again. Until then we live in a world tainted by sin, we live in the tension of the now and the not yet but in and through it all God continues to provide for us. He gives us everything we need for life and godliness whatever season we are in and no matter how difficult or disappointing life is. We have all we need to flourish.
At the most difficult point in his life when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane anticipating his own crucifixion, He cried out to his father, “Abba” and was able to entrust himself to God “not my will but yours be done”. That prayer led to his ultimate triumph over sin and death. Sometimes we need to stop fighting our circumstances, cry out to Abba, our Father and trust Him.
It is not easy to walk a path through pain and difficulty but it is in those times that we find God to be faithful and we are able to draw closer to Him. That has certainly been my experience. My life has not been all plain-sailing but in and through it all God has been faithful and I have flourished.