– Phillips Brooks
What part of a tree is the strongest? At exactly the point where the branch bears the most weight; and, oddly enough, the stress or pressure of that branch makes it grow more quickly than the rest of the tree. For the tree, pressure is good. This allows the tree to build long, strong branches so that it remains healthy. When we experience trials, tribulations, and heartaches, we are made stronger for it. Neither the tree nor we like the pressure, but it does make us stronger.
Strength Through Weakness
The Apostle Paul had to have suffered more than most of the other apostles because he traveled so far, was imprisoned so often, and was stoned and beaten several times and once thought to be dead; but he wrote that it was “for the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). The only time God can be shown strong in us is when we are at our weakest.
From Coal to Diamonds
From my meager understanding about geology, coal and diamonds are not that far apart on the atomic table (Periodic Table), at least molecularly, just like lead and gold; however, they are anything but the same in value. Lead and coal have been under great heat and intense pressure, yes, but not like gold or diamonds were. The point is that precious diamonds and gold are created under enormous pressure, and without that pressure, all you’d get are coal and lead, not gold and diamonds.
Stronger From the Storms
Years ago when they tried to make a completely sealed-off unit to live in, they immediately had problems with the vegetation. This biosphere was self-contained, and the plants were intended to produce adequate oxygen supplies for those living inside. The main problem was that the trees started to die off. One by one, they began to die; and they couldn’t understand why it was happening. Then they discovered that the trees can only grow when they face some sort of resistance–like wind! When the trees faced a steady breeze through the biosphere, they came back to life and started to grow again. So it is with the believers who carry their crosses for Christ. The resistance of life makes us grow stronger!
I love Phillips Brooks’ comment, “I do not pray for a lighter load, but for a stronger back” because he is saying that we should pray for God’s will to be done in our lives and not have every problem solved. I think we should pray that these trials would help us become stronger. We know that the stresses, pressures, and storms of life make us stronger and cause us to grow and to be more reliant on God, which is just what He wants. God never wastes suffering (Romans 8:28).