One of the things my wife insisted upon planting when we planned our garden was a raspberry patch. We had planted one years ago at a previous house. Sadly, when we moved, we couldn’t take it with us, and the new property wasn’t menial for a garden; but when we started putting in our garden at our current residence, my wife set aside a spot for raspberries and planted five young bushes.
We didn’t get any raspberries our first year, and the crop the second year was small indeed. This year, however, in their third year, the bushes are producing an abundant crop of the juicy, red berries.
I have made it my self-proclaimed responsibility to keep those raspberry bushes picked clean of the ripe berries. I have to be pretty quick about it, because it seems the second they are ripe enough to eat, the birds and wasps are there to help themselves. Nonetheless, I am still bringing a serving of fresh raspberries every day for our enjoyment.
There is only one thing that I don’t like about the whole berry-picking experience: Raspberry bushes are full of thorns and stinging insects. It doesn’t seem possible to be careful enough to completely avoid these. I realize that I have two choices: a) I take the risk and pick the raspberries; or b) I avoid the danger and don’t have fresh raspberries.
It’s true that I can buy fresh raspberries from the local markets; but these never taste nearly as good as the ones you pick fresh from the vine. So in order to get the blessing of the fresh fruit, I have to go through the pain of getting scratched; I have to put up with the risk of being stung.
Needless to say, I chose the latter. And I initially came in with scratches all up and down my hands and arms. But through it all, I’ve learned to wear long sleeves … and I have come to realize that I often can’t harvest the “best of the crop” because of the activity of the bees and wasps and hornets, that I will need to go back to those berries another time.
This makes me think of life. There is an old saying that goes, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”. This brief few words pack such a punch of truth. In order to get the good things in life, there will be sacrifices. Trials will happen. Pain will come. But in the end, we have two choices: a) We plunge in. We make the sacrifices, we endure the trials and the pain; or b) We do whatever we can to avoid the pain, the sacrifice, the trials.
But just like the raspberries … If I avoid picking them in order to protect myself from being scratched and stung, I will not have the benefit of those deliciously fresh berries. In the same way, if I choose against the sacrifice and the pain in life, I won’t learn the vital lessons I need, I won’t ever achieve what my heart truly desires: To be like Jesus: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV).
No, the only way to get the best raspberries in the world is to go through the sacrifice and risk of getting scratched and stung. In the same way, God uses the trials and pain of this life, He uses our sacrifice and our pain to give us the perseverance, character and hope that we need to make us into the image of Christ.
In the above paragraphs I have made it sound as if we can choose whether or not to go through trials; but we all know this isn’t true. We can’t choose to life a life free of grief, free of loss. But the principles remain: God knows how to bring good out of bad situations (See Romans 8:28), and He so often uses trials to shape us, because He knows it is the only way for us to learn the vital lessons He is trying to teach us.
A song by Robin Mark, “Lost and Found”, describes this so well:
When the rain fallsLost and Found by Robin Mark
And it some days will
And the pavement under my feet
Sparkles silver in gold
In reflective light
That I otherwise wouldn’t have seen
When the storm comes
And the strong wind blows
I will bow my head to push through
And every step that I take
I will watch and pray
And be sure my foothold is true
Jesus, don’t you keep me from that storm
I want to walk that sacred ground
For You are Master of it all
And I am but a lost and found
May this be our prayer today as well!
In His love,
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries