What a gnarly tree! Not all that pretty either (kinda like you and me, eh?) But its growth and process are to be admired and its truths are a valuable reminder to us, once again, how pain can transform us, if we let it, into a more beautiful light. Here are three takeaways.
Lesson One: The olive tree will not produce fruit unless it experiences the harsh winds of the East and the refreshing winds of the West. It takes both hard times and good times to be fruitful. As humans we will not discover our purpose unless we’ve gone through both; we will not learn the secrets of remaining steadfast if we don’t have both encouragement and painful criticism.
Lesson Two: Once the olive tree does produce fruit, the fruit is not useful until it’s gotten rid of its hardness and bitterness. We are much the same. The fruit has to be cracked open ever so slightly, salted and soaked, and salted and soaked; it’s quite a process to get rid of hardness and bitterness. The human heart has the propensity to stay hard and get bitter. When we go through painful experiences it softens us and makes us more receptive and more humble to recognize we aren’t the smartest people in the room, and that’s okay, we can actually receive what other people are trying to give us even if it comes in a package of criticism or painful statements.
Lesson Three: What is most valuable about the olive is not the fruit itself, but when the fruit is so hard- pressed that oil comes out of that fruit. The oil is the only thing that can be transformed into light and that light that shines in the midst of the darkness is incredibly valuable!!
So even in seasons where our pain is not just a discomfort but a hard pressing, we need to step back and say, “This is not only a hard pressing. The oil is coming and the light is on the way.” I can then become a woman of perspective and see the positive nature of pain and if there is a purpose in my pain I can endure it. (adapted from a video I watched by Lysa Terkeurst)
“Yet there is one ray of hope: his compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his loving-kindness begins afresh each day.” Lam. 3:22-23
As always, praying you find a new mercy today and everyday,