It is true – you do have it tough; no question. You alone know how hard it is to do what you do, as well as you do it, with the results that you manage to achieve. Heaven knows (though the rest of the world sure doesn’t!) how the odds are stacked against you, the circumstances that conspire to make it difficult, and that luck just doesn’t go your way as often as you need it to.
Honest. I am not kidding you. I believe you. Your hardships are real, not imagined, and are in fact one of the things that sets you apart – that, and how you respond to them. Of course I respect that.
That’s why this little flower made me think of you. Several people drew my attention to this one small, strong, completely singular flower that grew and bloomed over the past week in a crack between the concrete steps and the brick wall on the west side of the church. Where there is no soil, water, or care provided, this feisty little thing managed to manifest some serious floral splendor entirely on its own initiative and sheer toughness. Someone even plucked the bloom last Sunday, but it resolutely produced another.
The folks who saw it there recognized something that they themselves had in common, and encouraged by its success, offered some encouragement of their own: you go, guy!
Some folks get all the breaks. Take, for example, the flowers on my back deck this summer: beautiful hanging baskets, a large potted “garden,” and window boxes. They have had every advantage; carefully nurtured at a reputable greenhouse, watered assiduously all summer, pulled into the shade during the searing days of July; fertilized, but not overly. The marigolds and impatiens in the window boxes were even planted by the expert hands of Jerry McNamara! Talk about every advantage - no wonder they look splendid.
To us, other people look like the ones abundantly blessed, more often than not. Some folks get all the breaks, while we get all the hard knocks; at least so it seems. We see only their beauty and advantage. That is not because they have no hardship or struggle, for they do; only they are invisible to us.
I think that is why our little heroic flower caught so many people’s attention. They felt that they had something in common with it. In truth, that struggle and that adversity are what we have in common with everybody.
And so it is what God has taken in common with us. He sees us and knows our struggles, and joins us in them. That is why he is perfectly united with us in the hardship he freely accepted for us, death on a cross. That is the tree of life, and the bloom that never withers.