In the fruit ridge of Kent County, Michigan is where you can find ghost apples. Ghost Apples are formed when freezing rain coats a rotting apple that is still on the tree. The apple turns mushy and slips out to the ground leaving behind an icy shell. An unusual phenomenon that is quite beautiful. But also, so very fragile. Imagine how easily these icy shells could break.
I wonder how many of us have allowed hurts in our life to rot us? To create a bitterness so deep to the core that we slowly rot? Hurt and sadness so profound that we are just mush. Numb…
God never intended for us to be icy shells. Beautiful on the outside but mushy and numb on the inside. So how do we allow hurt in our lives to ripen us but not rot us? In the midst of sorrow and pain, how do we find joy?
Elizabeth Elliot said, ” The cross is the gateway to joy. And was there any greater suffering than on the cross?”
To understand joy and suffering simultaneously is to understand the cross. There is nothing uglier than the cross, yet nothing more beautiful.
There are so many disappointments in life. There are many small disappointments that can dampen a seemingly good day. A sassy child, a friend that leaves us out and we see the good times they had without us plastered on social media, a burnt dinner, a broken washing machine, a bad grade, an argument with our spouse… Sometimes, it’s all about sweating the small stuff. These things only seem like small disappointments when you’ve been knocked down by the big ones. The big ones come and take the breath out of us. We long for the broken washing machine when these come our way. A diagnosis, a chronic illness, a death, divorce, addictions, betrayal by a friend, broken relationships, the loss of a job…
These disappointments can shatter our souls, leave us bitter and depleted…Ghost Apples. We might look beautiful on the outside, but so fragile we will break at any moment.
God did not make us robots. He obviously gave us the ability to feel. It can be very dangerous to ignore or suppress our feelings. There is even a reason God gave us tears. A study conducted by really smart people :)… found that crying has a direct, self -soothing effect on our bodies. Crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system which can help us relax. Crying regulates emotions and excretes a high level of stress hormones. In other words, a good cry can, in fact, be good for us. I have had my fair share of ugly cries lately. But I know I cannot hunker down and stay in a crying state of mind. That kind of mentality can isolate me. If the enemy can isolate us with our fears, he can influence us.
“The disappointment that is exhausting and frustrating you? It holds the potential for so much good. But we’ll only see it as good if we trust the heart of the giver.” (Lysa Terkeurst, It’s Not Supposed to be This Way)
“I’m convinced that there are a good many things in this life that we really can’t do anything about, but that God wants us to do something with.” (Elizabeth Elliot, Suffering is Never For Nothing)
When Jesus went up on the mountainside to deliver the Sermon on the Mount, He already knew the suffering He would face. He knew the friends that He had walked with and ministered with would betray Him. He knew He would be mocked, persecuted and faced with temptation. Read Matthew 5: 1-12. Memorize it. Claim it. Study it. Etch it on your heart.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those that are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven.”
Rejoice and be glad when you endure suffering… makes no sense unless you know you are a child of God. When you feel shattered, broken to the point of dust… Remember,
“Dust doesn’t have to signify the end. Dust is often what must be present for the new to begin.” Lysa Terkeurst
John 13:7 “Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.'”