When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 NLT
Right about now, I think most of us by this time have felt like we’ve gone through deep water, and God has been with us. We’ve gotten swept down stream by the river of difficulties and we haven’t drowned. We’re still walking through the fire of oppression and it may not be consuming us, but it sure feels like it and is uncomfortable. And we’re asking ourselves what is the purpose in all of this?
Maybe we can find some answers in the South African Protea plant. This is the National Flower of South Africa and is a symbol of change and hope, named after Proteus the Greek god who could take on various shapes. There are over 1500 species between South Africa and Australia and New Zealand. They come in various sizes, shapes and produce gorgeous unique flowers (it would be worth your time to do a web search).
Although there are many differences, they all have three common characteristics. Their flowers produce excessive amounts of nectar, which is why it is also called a Sugarbush. Their root systems allow them to grow and flourish even in nutrient depleted soil and survive the harshest of weather conditions. But the most interesting one is that although the plant and flower burns, there are dormant buds that survive the wildfires that clear the Cape land. Actually, once the fire clears, only then can they emerge. It’s only through the fire that these buds that can lay dormant for more than 20 years grow and produce new plants and start the cycle all over again.
Our relationship with Jesus gives us characteristics similar to the Protea plant. When we accept Him, He takes that which was our old life and makes it completly new (2 Corinthians 5:17) and beautiful. We can then tell the world to taste and see the goodness of our God (Psalm 34:8). But most importantly, it’s through the fires of trials that He can bring new ideas, abilities and gifts out of us that otherwise would remain hidden and He can begin something new and great through us (Isaiah 43:19). No matter how it looks, what it sounds like or how it feels, He can take it all and give it purpose, so that others will come to know Him as Savior and Lord (Genesis 50:20). Don’t lose heart, He is always with you and working to help you experience an abundant life.