Today, I have a word for those of you who are in a season of constant testing and trials. Perhaps you’ve been fighting battle after battle, and you feel hard-pressed on every side. If this is you, I understand because I’ve been there. In times like these, when it seems as if it’s just one thing after another, there’s a famous quote by Carl Jung (who was a psychoanalyst from a hundred years ago) that I’ve learned to embrace. He said, “No tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” Though it sounds strange upon first hearing, his words give life to the idea that there comes a point when we can’t really grow unless we go through tough times. This is because, when we feel the heat of the fire and the weight of worldly pressures, our unfruitful branches ultimately die and fall off. And, though it’s painful to shed those parts of us, being pruned makes us stronger, tougher, and causes us to grow taller and gain influence. As we trust in the Lord and hold onto the confident assurance of His presence in drought-like seasons, He works behind the scenes to lighten our load, free our spirit, and make us more like Him.
My friend, instead of despising the tough circumstances you’re facing, embrace them! In spite of uncertainty in the world around you, now is the time to go deep and do the painful work of shedding dead weight in your life. Today, you have an opportunity to press into your relationship with God, walk the path of self-discovery, and let Him lead you to a brighter future. In fact, the truth is that the deeper you go, the more you will grow. While challenging seasons are inevitable, your response can transform them from a problem into an opportunity. No matter how things look from your limited perspective, you are like a tree planted by streams of water. As you choose to expand your roots and embrace intimacy with the Lord and others, you will bear fruit and inherit the abundant life He promised — the kind that stretches you to make you stronger!