A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tenacity in the Midst of Adversity

In the eight years that we have lived in Smithville, I have planted a vegetable garden. My grandfather was a master gardener, so I suppose it is in my genes. The first three years or so I planted several short rows of corn and every year a severe storm would come along and blow the corn over. I finally decided that enough was enough; in subsequent years I planted lettuce, beans, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and even jalapeno peppers, but no corn.

This spring as I was in the local hardware store purchasing seeds, I noticed a variety of corn, which produced smaller stalks and ears, but still promised to be sweet and delicious. Since the stalks were smaller (only four feet fully grown), I thought I would try raising corn once again. I planted those several short rows with enthusiasm; for there is nothing like fresh sweet corn right off the stalk.

The corn grew nicely through June and most of July. Early last week we had a very severe thunderstorm. The next morning I looked out our family room window into the backyard, and much to my disappointment, all my corn was lying on the ground, blown over by the high winds the night before. I told my wife Carol that day, “That’s it! I will never plant corn as long as we live here!”

A couple of days later, I went out to the garden to pick some lettuce and I noticed that the corn was no longer laying completely flat; it seemed as if it was sitting up a little. I thought that was rather unusual, but I did not think more of it. One week later as I went out to the garden this evening, that corn, which had been blown completely over, is standing up straight and tall again. In fact, our neighbor, who owns a farm and grows corn commented to me tonight how amazed he was to see that corn pointing straight toward the sky.

Paul tells the Corinthians, “We are afflicted, but not crushed; bruised, but not despairing; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body (2 Corinthians 7-10).

How often in the church’s life and ministry despair sets in—the church budget is tight, the pastoral staff do not get along, the “wet blankets” of the church are doing a great job of putting out the fires of exciting ministry, and some folks in the community cannot believe the kind of people that the church on the corner is willing to welcome into their building. In the midst of the afflictions and the difficulties, the followers of Jesus must continue on, ready to stand tall even when the winds of division and narrow-mindedness and complete lack of vision threaten the mission to which they have been called.

When I went out to my garden tonight to look at that corn, standing straight and tall once again, upon closer inspection I could tell that near the roots, the stalks are slightly bent, revealing that they have experienced adversity. Nevertheless, they have prevailed.

When we suffer the various trials of ministry, we may very well suffer emotional bruises (in some countries the bruises Christians have are physical), we may be afflicted and bear scars, but because of the life of Jesus in us we will not despair, we will not be abandoned, and we will most definitely not be destroyed. The followers of Jesus must show tenacity in the midst of adversity. In so doing, they will reflect the image of their Lord who died a painful, difficult, and tenacious death upon a cross; and who stubbornly refused to let humanity have the last word in his resurrection from the dead.

Next spring, I think I will plant corn.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Great analogy here. I believe this is so important for our lives as Christians. That we are able to continue on, including recoveries, in adversity. Especially through those most difficult times and places. God's great faithfulness makes the difference and keeps us going (gets us going again), even as true of the writer of Lamentations, who had been there and done that, when it comes to adversity. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This really struck a chord with me. So far this year, a broken leg, a heart attack, a staph infection and a kidney in danger of shutting down - but here I am, on my feet, with God's help. You plant your corn next year for sure, Allan - and I'll just keep getting up every day and thanking the Lord for it. Marilyn

Allan R. Bevere said...


Continue to stand straight and tall. Your tenacity in the midst of it all has been been clearly noticed by those of us who know you.

Sally said...

Never write something off whilst there is still life and hope- a bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out. Wonderful post tahnk you