Hope for a Tree, Hope for Me (Ros' Blog)
While away on holiday, I spotted this tree in the garden of the cottage where we were staying. It was little more than a stump, about four feet high, and had obviously been cut right down at some point in its past. But despite the insult to its entire system, this tree was putting out foliage in abundance, some from half way down what remained of its trunk, and some from the top of the stump. It reminded me of a beautiful piece of poetry from Job 14:
“There is hope for a tree:
if it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.”
Sometimes life pulls the rug from under us. Something happens that alters every plan we thought we had. For some that includes loss of physical abilities they once had; for others it might mean the creeping onset of a physical or cognitive impairment; for others, discovering that the child you gave birth to has additional needs and will need a lot more care, and for a lot longer, than you anticipated when you planned to have a baby. It’s like being a tree that’s cut down in its prime.
In my last post I wrote of trees that flourish in drought because their roots go down deep into the water source. And here we find water again playing a part. When life cuts us down, we wonder how we could ever flourish again the way we used to. But in this poem, the mere scent of water is said to be enough to make the plant bud again and put forth new shoots.
Sure, the tree in my picture is going to end up a very different shape from the shape it would have had if it had never been cut down. But already it’s shooting upwards again and growing an abundance of leaves. It is certainly going to be a full-sized tree again eventually, as long as no one cuts it down again. It has found water, and that water has nurtured the life in it.
And so with us. No matter how “curtailed” we feel by whatever life has brought us, we will continue to grow and flourish, to become a shape of beauty, maybe a different shape and a different kind of beauty than the one we thought we were headed for, but beautiful and purposeful nonetheless. As soon as we reach out to Jesus, the living water, and come within even just the scent of that spring, we will flourish and grow again. And that, as this passage from Job says, gives us renewed hope.