“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
12 You will live in joy and peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into song,
and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
13 Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name;
they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”
~Isaiah 55: 8 - 13 (NLT)
Regardless, His word says so much about our struggles and pain. In Isaiah 41:13, God contrasts, “Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.” To understand the weight of this comparison, you have to know a little something about thorns, Cypress trees, myrtles and nettles; we’ll zero in on nettles and myrtles for today.
A nettle is a small, inconspicuous, yet quite ominous plant. It has tiny hairs that create an itchy, fiery pain immediately on contact. Touch it and you’ll be in burning pain for days! Unfortunately, I know from experience! They're all over Texas!
According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, the Myrtle tree known as:
“The Myrtus communis is the kind denoted by the Hebrew word (It is a shrub or low tree sometimes ten feet high, with green shining leaves, and snow-white flowers bordered with purple, "which emit a perfume more exquisite than that of the rose." The seeds of the myrtle, dried before they are ripe, form our allspice (which smells like what most people think is a combination of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg).”
I don’t know about you but wow! God says, from my fiery, uncomfortable pain will sprout something that is vibrant, robust and deeply fragrant. Even more so, it will produce flowers and berries, which when out in the sun, can be used to bring beauty and depth to other things through scent, flavor and color. WOW.
Now you’re not thinking that when you’re surrounded by nettles, that a myrtle is about to sprout just beneath your feet, but it is. You can’t see it now in your hurting. You might not even be able to hear or even process that beauty will bloom from your situation and sorrow, but God says it will. The bible is full of statements about restoring, returning, reviving… from our ashes, the remains of dreams and hopes set ablaze, he creates fertile ground that ushers in new growth and lush greenery. We have to believe him and trust that, despite what it looks like or even feels like at the moment, he means it when he says that he knows best, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."
Here are some Truths for your way:
- Romans 5: 3 – 5 and 12; James 1 Don’t be surprised when pain and hardship come your way, it has a higher purpose, so consider it an opportunity for growth, joy and blessing
- Psalm 31:7; Psalm 56:8; 1 Peter 5:7 Know that God sees us and cares about our pain; He keeps track of our sorrows and bottles our every tear; He wants us to give all our worries over to him.
- Proverbs 3:4-5; Isaiah 40:12-31 Don’t depend on human thought or reasoning to try and understand the situation, rely on God; He is faithful, just and sovereign.
- Psalm 40:1-3; 1 Peter 5:10; Romans 8:28 Remember that our pain is temporary; be patient, just around the corner is restoration, support, strength and a firm foundation; God is going to work all this out for our good!
- 2 Corinthians 1:3 – 7 Seek the “God of all comfort” who comforts us in our trouble so we can then comfort others who are going through the same things
- Ephesians 4:27; 1 Peter 5:8-9 Don’t fall into the trap, our enemy is waiting to take advantage of us in our pain and hardship.
Regarding this last point, beware. There is story after story in the bible of people who let their pain rule them. They allowed it make them bitter, hurt others, do regretful things, and turn their backs on God. Regardless of the situation, being a Christian doesn’t make us immune or untouchable by pain or tragedy. Rather we will have those things regardless and being a Christian determines our responses to those things. So feel the pain, process it, pray over it and as soon as possible, move on. Don’t marinate in it. That’s when you leave a foot hold for the devil to hold it over you and keep you captive to it. This means we have to focus more on who God is, His sovereignty, glory and power and less on ourselves, our tragedy, and our pain.