“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have
suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
1 Peter 5:10
This week’s adventure was a morning picking blackberries in North Carolina. I say adventure because if you have ever picked blackberries you know that gathering the juicy treat comes with a price. Briars, ticks, and chiggers are the hazards you must wade through, not to mention the mid-summer heat. We were fortunate that the sky was overcast and that the high elevation provided a cool breeze. However, the briars stood ready to defend.
Attired in jeans, big boots, and long sleeves, I stood at the base of an embankment. I marvelled at the massive cluster of blackberry bushes. They were interwoven into a thick mat of briars. Vines bowed to the ground by the weight of berries. Thousands of red and black fruit hung in bunches more like grapes than berries. I had never seen bushes so burdened. As my friends and I went to picking, the rhythmic sound of berries plopping into buckets echoed up and down the lane.
If you are familiar with growing seasons you may be a bit surprised that we were blackberry picking in June. Blackberries are most common mid to late July. Despite the date, we spent the morning reaching into the thorns to pluck juicy ripe fruit. As we picked we chattered about the abundance. We all agreed it was the plentiful rain we have been receiving that had encouraged this “bumper crop”. As we worked our way through the briar we became quiet, concentrating on our task. During this silence with only the drone of summer insects and conversation of the birds, my mind drifted to thoughts about the berries and the rain. I thought about how the bushes had endured the rain, severe storms, and angry winds and despite it, bore abundant fruit. However, as I thought further was it despite the tumultuous weather, or because of it?
Storms in Life
We all face storms in life and some things can only be improved by opposing winds. The storms are intended to strengthen our character and faith. When we stand to look into the dark clouds of an approaching storm, do we hold to our faith, or do we let our fear, like the wind, sweep us away?
The berry bushes produced an abundance of fruit because of the storms. We too have the opportunity to bear an abundance of fruit when we weather the storms of life by holding on to our faith in Jesus. The storms we face are often painful, disheartening and frightening. However, if we turn to Jesus and focus on Him we can weather the storm and emerge out of the squall better, strengthened and rooted deeply in faith.