The bruiséd reed He will not break,
But strengthen and sustain.
—John Greenleaf Whittier
A friend sent us a set of Amaryllis bulbs for Christmas with the promise that they would blossom, in due time, if we would put them in a sunny spot and water them.
We’ve grown Amaryllis before and know that the flower is not like the bulb. The bulbs are unsightly things: Dirty and stained. The flowers are stunningly beautiful: brilliant red blossoms that seem to shimmer in the light. (The name Amaryllis comes from a Greek verb, amarysso, that means, "to sparkle.”)
The odd thing about our Amaryllis, however, is the differential: One stalk grew rapidly, almost ½ an inch a day; the second grew more slowly. The third stalk grew hardly at all.
Christians are like that, you know. Some grow rapidly in faith, hope and love; some grow more slowly; others grow hardly at all.
I was disappointed in the little bulb; I thought it would do better. God, on the other hand, understands poor stunted things.
He knows those that have been trampled underfoot as children, bent and broken by abuse. He understands those who are bending under a load of rejection and shame. He knows the betrayals that make it hard to trust him and respond to his love. He understands the bewilderment of those whose hopes and dreams have been shattered.
C. S. Lewis writes, “If you are a poor creature—poisoned by a wretched up-bringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels—saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual perversion—nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends—do not despair.”
Do not despair? Indeed, for God has infinite pity for the tragedy and pathos of your life. “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoking flax He will not quench.” He knows your desire for goodness and despite false starts and frequent failure he is at work every day conforming some small part of you to his likeness, with the guarantee that one day you will be an object of staggering beauty.
So... Never give up. Never give up. Never, never give up! Keep struggling upward toward the light: sit at Jesus’ feet and take in his words, pour out your heart in surrender and supplication, keep yourself in the warmth of his love, “being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will carry it to completion on the Day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
God is never in a hurry, but he does mean business, and (as a friend of mine once said) “He will finish the work as soon as he can.”
P.S. The littlest Amaryllis grew a tiny bit today...