When You've Had a Setback

This excerpt from Time Out for the Spirit reminds us to turn to God and thrive through life's challenges.

By Elizabeth Sherrill, Hingham, Massachusetts

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Read: "Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not."
–Lamentations 3:22

Reflect: The slopes of the Rocky Mountains offer fragile footholds to trees. Storms, drought and bitter cold warp their growth. But the trees live on. I stood before one twisted ponderosa pine, marveling at the disasters it had survived. Ice had broken its limbs, fierce winds bent its trunk almost level. Yet the tree was not only alive, it thrived—thrusting the new year’s growth toward the sun.

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Studying that gnarled outline, I saw in fact that this was the secret of the tree’s survival. After each assault, its branches once more sought the sun, reaching skyward from wherever the latest setback had left them, sustaining the overall pattern of upward growth.

Scientists call this persistence in plants heliotropism, “turning toward the sun.” There’s a word for the same quality in human life, the ever-repeated turning to God, no matter what traumas come our way. The word, of course, is hope.

Pray: Father, I’m feeling a lot like that ponderosa pine—beat to the ground by yet another setback. I turn now to You, the Light, for new growth and renewed hope as You shape my heart, not in spite of these setbacks, but through them.

Do: Imagine or draw a picture of a damaged tree, thriving in spite of the traumas it has survived.

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