As I sit here, looking out the big, bay window beyond my dining room table, all I see in the distance is a line of trees. A few still have flowers, but most have dropped their petals and turned to the lush, bright green of mid-May. A few weeks ago, sitting in this same spot, I saw a lake in the distance, just beyond my property line. But now, the leaves of the trees have obscured it. If I look hard in just the right place, I can catch a glimpse of water. But if I didn’t know it was there, I probably wouldn’t notice it.
Two scenarios come to mind as I consider this landscape. Both had me contemplating how I handle difficulties. In the first one, I pretend the lake (difficulty) doesn’t exist. Visitors to my home wouldn’t know it is there. It’s invisible to them. They might even call me crazy if I told them there is a lake back there. In this scenario, I welcome the cover of the trees. Deep in my mind and heart, I know it’s out there somewhere, but I don’t need to look at it or even think about it. In this season, it has disappeared.
The fall may start to bring the lake into view again, with small peeks as the leaves drop their cover. By winter, all I’ll see is the lake. The trees covering it up will become bare and gray, blending into the winter sky. When I ignore difficulties or try to cover them up, pretending they aren’t there, they always seem to resurface and even dominate my life for a season.
In scenario two I know the lake is there, even though I can’t see it right now. I am ever on the watch for it. Sometimes I even go down to it and see what’s going on there – people kayaking or fishing, birds swooping up mosquitos (thank you very much), beavers adding to their lodge. The lake has purpose. I welcome the time I can spend there. There’s a quietness not found in other places. I learn new things about the lake and the wildlife that call it home. I share it with friends and grow from the camaraderie of that shared experience. And when the colder, more barren seasons come, it’s no surprise to me that there’s a lake out there.
I plan to walk down to the lake often this summer, checking out how it changes in a new season, and reminding myself that life’s difficulties have purpose. Each one is a chance to see things from a different perspective, to learn and grow in some way. I won’t cover up my problems or hide them behind a cheery smile, pretending they don’t exist. I will share them with my close friends who will help me through them with their prayers and friendship and, no doubt, some laughter.
The lake and trees are all part of a bigger picture. I hope to find joy in all of it. Maybe I’ll even try a little ice fishing when winter comes (no, I won’t).
“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3,4 ESV)