These are the flowers I picked with my grandmother when I was 3 years old.
It was 1987. We picked some wildflowers from beside the road as we walked and chose cultivated varieties from her garden. Then, she showed me how to press them between pages of newsprint in her flower press.
If she hadn’t, the petals would have disintegrated long ago. I probably wouldn’t even remember them.
As it is, I can still see their colors. I remember what she said as we walked. I remember the way she knelt down and showed me the intricacies of petal, leaf, stem, and thorn.
When pressed, they endured. Because they have endured, I remember the proof of their genuineness. The proof of their genuineness brings love up behind my eyes even more genuine than the physical flower.
Paul wrote about this to the Romans when he said, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Suffering and tribulation press us, but our faith in Jesus Christ keeps us from being crushed. We can rejoice because of the long-term outcome- the outworking of the love of God.
What is pressing in on you?
Are you rejoicing in the lasting fruit?
My older son recently started this year’s football season. As I write, I watch him crouch in readiness before the opposition springs. He is shoved, pushed, pressed, but he is ready. He resists. He digs his cleats into the turf and lowers his head. He pushes back with all of his strength until the whistle blows.
The enemy has not gained any ground.
We must simultaneously rejoice in suffering while resisting evil.
The Apostle Paul said we could push back, even while rejoicing in times of suffering, because God leans in toward us. Enmity with God has been abolished. Now, we stand in His presence, and He smiles as we stand with Him shoulder to shoulder shoving the enemy back, persevering in hope.
This week, our church met for revival services. After services one night, the home of one of our families caught fire. Everyone escaped, but the devastation of losing everything hung thick like smoke.
On our church message board, one of the family members wrote, “Let’s all give thanks to God. He has been so good to us, this week especially. Thank you, Jesus!”
That kind of praise in the midst of suffering only occurs when Jesus works through us. No amount of suffering can make Him stop pouring His love into our hearts! We are always being filled, even when our hands are empty. Jesus is at our side, always at the ready.
Instead of disintegrating, we remain steadfast, with the beauty and fragrance of Christ preserved for all to see.