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Stengthen the Weak
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“Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, ‘Take courage, fear not…’” (Isaiah 35:3, 4).

The tropical seeds came through the mail in one of those numerous solicitations to “send money, save the world.” Curious about what sort of tree they would produce, my husband planted them. Three sprouted, but only one survived the early days of spindly growth.

As the plant stretched fragile fronds toward the light from the window, its stalk grew top-heavy. I tied it loosely to a small stake. By spring it needed a larger pot and longer stake to support its pencil-thin trunk.  I pruned the top, hoping it would branch out. It did. During the summer the tree grew outdoors. I trimmed it back occasionally. When the weather turned cold, we brought it in.

By the third summer, the trunk no longer leaned or pulled against the stake. It had developed its own strength. I removed the support. The tree flourished, blossomed, and produced several long seed pods which showed transparent against the light. We watched new seeds develop and grow within the pods.

“We’re making babies,” my husband announced, proud of his young sapling.

Give Back

At Christmas, instead of an evergreen, we strung lights on our living tree. We left them there until spring, partly to provide light to the tree on gloomy days, but mostly for the pleasure of looking at the plant which grew able to bear fruit and give back to the surroundings which nurtured it.

People are like trees. It is easy to draw an analogy with children: nurturing, guiding, “pruning”—and rejoicing in what they become. But adults also experience times of need emotionally or spiritually.

Blessed are those who serve as “stakes” for persons newly growing in Christ or who are suffering damage from life’s cruel wind: people who are “there”—trustworthy, strong, nurturing; people who understand the importance of “strengthening the feeble” while maintaining their own identity. Such persons know how to nurture and leave room for growth. They know when it’s time to “pull out” and how to enjoy the specter of someone else’s blossoming.

My prayers is: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your healing and nurturing in the lives of others. Help me not to facilitate dependencies but to help others discover their strengths in You. Where they have felt brokenness or weakness, may they recognize Your ability to produce blossoms. May my own life flower and bear fruit to Your glory. Amen.”

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®.

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