Marilyn J. Abraham revealed something remarkable that a forest ranger told her about how trees protect themselves. The ranger said that when a tree’s life is threatened, stressed by fire, drought, disease, or whatever, it twists beneath its bark to make itself stronger. You cannot see this new inner strength on the surface. The bark often looks the same. It is when the exterior is stripped away or the tree is felled that its inner struggles are revealed.
The ranger’s story tells us several helpful things. Often, we do not know the depths and extremes of others’ suffering. Too, usually, no one knows the depth and extreme of our suffering. But, God is able to help make us stronger even through the struggles through which we go.
Asaph wrote, “My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud; My voice rises to God, and He will hear me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness; My soul refused to be comforted” (Psa. 77:1-3). Asaph depicts a mighty inner struggle, one wallowing in the pit of despair. When things seemed most hopeless, the struggler saw that His pain had changed His view of God. He had focused on God’s anger and seeming rejection. But, then, He remembered who God is. He thought about God’s deeds, His power, His holiness, and His leadership. Then, he had the help he needed to handle the hurts.
To those who are hurting, remember who God is and what He can do! Think about the strength and growth God can produce in you through the trials you are enduring. May all of us understand, as we deal with others, that we may not be able to tell how much others are hurting when we see them. Let us deal gently with others, since we do not know their inner struggles.