I had a weeping cherry tree. It must have been 30 or 40 years old, and the trunk was rather gnarly. It had, however, the most glorious profusion of blossoms for a brief time each Spring. It was such a rare pleasure, and I looked forward to it with anticipation.
The Spring before my father passed away, the cherry blossoms were truly spectacular, and I made a point of calling him to tell him about it. I wanted him to see it. I wanted to share the beauty of it with him. Sadly, he was by then already less than vigorous, and he said, “I’ll see it another time, honey.” He was gone by Christmas the next year, and my cherry tree was never the same.
It bloomed less and less each year until we finally had to chop it down because the trunk was entirely rotten through. The stump remains, and you would think it would be a constant reminder of loss. And at first it might have been. Now, it is not that at all. Mysteriously, it has become a lasting symbol of the one incredibly glorious blossoming that I can still see when I close my eyes and which never fails to bring precious memories of my father flooding into my heart and mind.
You may wonder at the transformation in me. Indeed I marvel at it myself. I can only say with the psalmist, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Ps 30:5b KVJ) Sorrow and gladness are part of the order of this world, and there may be some purpose beyond what I can fathom. I can tell you this: in all the journey of my life so far I have had a fair amount of suffering, and God has used all of it to carve deep wells in me which He has filled with the joy of Himself.
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O, Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” (Ps 30:11-12)
Take some time this week to consider how the Lord Himself has filled up the places in your heart that may have been hollowed out by suffering. Maybe you still have a hollow place. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you there in that place. Accept His invitation to enter into a transaction with Him. Make a divine exchange. Receive gladness. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength.
Until next week go out with joy and be led forth with peace (Is 55:12).