By Lynn Jones
The seed catalog arrived in the mail a few days ago, and it did wonders for my spirit. At this time of the year when freezing temperatures have turned our yard into various shades of brown and gray, it’s great to see some color and to dream of growing flowers in our yard in a few months.
Growing flowers is not easy. Just about the time you’ve gotten them past the drought and insects, and they begin to bloom, some of them fall to the ground. The problem is that the weight of the flower is too much for the stem. So, just when they should be standing, they go crashing to the ground.
When that happens, I do not give up on them. Instead, I give them a little help. I take a strong stick and put it into the ground next to the flower. I lift the flower and lash it to the stick. With this added strength, most of the flowers go on blooming and sharing their beauty with the world.
Something like that often happens in life. The weight of the world comes down upon our shoulders and presses us to the ground. This kind of weight that is placed on our narrow shoulders produces pain and, sometimes, bitterness. Written on the wall of an inner-city building were these words, “Try God!” Beneath that someone had written, “On what charge?”
People make all kinds of charges against God. Some go to God with many questions. They demand an answer to the problem of suffering and pain in their lives.
What we need more than answers is One who will come alongside us, like a stake alongside a flower, to give us the strength to stand when we cannot do it on our own. That strength may come from a friend, but, supremely, it comes from God. He is a strong presence who gives us the strength to stand.
Ben King recorded a song in the 1960’s entitled “Stand by Me,” in which he appeals to someone he loves to stand by him. But there is an old hymn by the same title written in 1905 by Charles Tindley, in which he asks God to stand by him. The hymn begins with these words: “When the storms of life are raging, stand by me./ When the storms of life are raging, stand by me./ When the world is tossing me, like a ship upon the sea,/ Thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me./ In the midst of tribulation, stand by me./ In the midst of tribulation stand by me./ When the hosts of hell assail, and my strength begins to fail,/ Thou who never lost a battle, stand by me.”
The witness of His Word is that God stands beside His people. Like a strong stake by a sagging flower, this mighty God will stand by you!
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.