Upon awakening, I stumbled into the kitchen to brew a strong cup of hot coffee. As I did so, my bleary eyes landed on a most glorious sight. In spite of being within the deep throes of autumn, a beautiful red hibiscus bud had bloomed overnight.
I instantly gave thanks, seeing this beautiful bloom as a gift from God. It was as if I heard a whisper of His still, small voice speaking from within His creation of this single, vibrant, red bloom. I heard God encouraging me and saying, “Keep blooming.”
I think it is safe to say that times have been difficult for each and every one of us during this worldwide pandemic. I know for myself that all of the major adjustments to our daily living as well as remaining isolated and socially distanced from one another, has led me to feel especially disconnected and emotionally distanced from others. As the months drag on, all of the changes and uncertainty have fostered a profound weariness. Add to all of this the need to consistently wear a mask when out in public, the job loss and/or job changes that have occurred, and the anxiety centered around the fear of getting sick (or witnessing loved ones get sick); life has indeed been demanding.
Considering all hardship, with many of us encountering great suffering along the way, I cannot help but be drawn back to this vivid bloom and consider how God reaches out, inviting each of us to “keep blooming.”
Hebrews 12:2 reminds us that Christ “endured the cross” all for “the joy set before him…” He faced the torture, the scrutiny, the shame, and intense pain all for the joy of “sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God,” setting His beloved children free, and offering the gift of eternal life. If we but “keep our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith,” (NLT) we truly can graciously step into God’s invitation to keep blooming.
Even when the trial seems never-ending, the health diagnosis terminal, the family dysfunctional, and hatred, riots, and violence abounding in the world, if we keep our eyes on Jesus, He will fill us and encourage us to keep blooming.
Maybe a way forward in being a vibrant bloom within the hardship is to find ways of extending ourselves. Sharing a little bit of tender-loving-care with others around us ushers in the gift of blessing and joy to the very countenance of our hearts. I personally find it amazing how, when I take the time to care well for another, I am typically the one blessed through the gift of fulfillment, love, and satisfaction. Encouragement and joy are found in helping others in need. It also reminds us that, for the sake of our own souls, it is critical for us to keep forgiving. Keeping our eyes on Jesus reminds us to forgive, and inspires us to keep blooming.
All in all, I am going to choose to not give up. Even as things may get harder before they get better, I am going to choose thankfulness. I am going to press in to God, keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, and allow Him to be at work within my heart. All of this so I can continue to bloom, grow, and flourish right where He has me. Will you join me? Let’s bloom alongside one another with eyes fixed on Jesus and hearts that are grateful. Just imagine the beautiful garden that will grow along with the difference we will make on this earth.
“Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.’”Isaiah 35:1-4, NLT