Beauty Born Out of Adversity

One of the most widely photographed trees in the world was the Jeffrey Pine on the crest of Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park. Its beauty was made famous by the legendary Ansel Adams in 1940, and was photographed & enjoyed by thousands until it died of drought in 1977.

Many say that its rugged beauty was the result of centuries of harsh winds, frigid winters, and dry summers, that its was a beauty born out of adversity. But I would argue differently. It was not adversity that produced the beauty of the tree— it was the response of the tree to adversity. Over the centuries, there may have been hundreds of seedlings sprout on that rocky crag, but only one survived, yes, not only survived but thrived and became a source of inspiration.

What was the difference? How did that tree respond to its adversity? And how can we respond to the adversities in our lives?

First, the tree found a secure footing and stayed rooted. This tree dug itself into the great stone mountain, so much larger & stronger than itself. As long as it stayed rooted in the rock, it was immovable, no matter how fiercely the wind blew.

Jesus said that we could be the same way. In the parable of the two builders in Matthew 7:24-27 He said that only the house built on the rock was able to withstand the storm. Just like the tree & just like the house, we can withstand the storms of life as long as our roots are firmly planted in the solid rock of Christ’s teachings.

Second, the tree kept growing despite the hardship. In the book Mindset psychologist Carol Dweck concludes that successful people share a “growth mindset,” a basic life outlook that says that life is about growth, no matter the challenges. As the old saying goes, life consists not in holding good cards, but in playing those you hold well. That tiny seedling on Sentinel Dome hundreds of years ago did not hold “a good hand,” but it played its hand well. So can you, if you refuse to stagnate, if you continue to learn & change & fight & grow no matter what.

Third, the tree drew its life & strength from daily exposure to the sun. That tree could have decided, “This wind and snow is too much, I’ll build a wall all around me and a roof to keep out the cold.” If it had, it would have died, for trees need sunlight to survive. In the same way, we are sometimes tempted to wall ourselves off in our hardship, from others, even from God. But only by daily looking to Christ & abiding in His light can we draw the strength to live & grow & flourish in this all-too-often harsh world.

Do you want to have beauty born from the adversity in your life? Then remember to stay anchored and rooted in Christ, keep growing, & draw life & strength daily from Him.

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