A giant Oak tree stood near a river surrounded by tender reeds. When the wind blew, the great Oak fought to hold upright with its fists lifted to the sky. However, the little stalks bowed low to the ground and allowed the gales to brush over them. As they yielded, they sang a sad melody.
The reeds said nothing and shook their heads.
“The tiniest breeze ruffles the waters and forces you to bend over. You should be like me. I am the mighty Oak; I stood strong and determined against the storm.”
“Do not fret over us,” said the shoots. “The winds may blow, but they do not harm us. We accept the tempests, so we do not break. You, however, are arrogant and headstrong and must fight to resist the currents. Beware your pride will only lead to your demise.”
While the little stalks spoke, a massive hurricane rushed towards them from the North. The Oak laughed as he watched them prepare for the blizzard. He planted his feet firmly in the soil and protested against the weather, while the yielding stems submitted to the elements.
The Oak continued to express amusement as he raised his craggy arms in the air. Nevertheless, the winds doubled their fury, causing the Oak’s limbs to pull away and fly into the whirlwind. Time past and the stubborn tree fell to pieces. Soon, the cyclone unleashed its torrents and uprooted the tree, and laid its trunk amongst the pitying reeds.
An unknown author once said, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.”
In Aesop’s Fable, “The Oak,” we learn that there are hardships in life that are unexpected and not a response to anything we’ve done. We can bow to the trial in humility, or we can throw our fists in the air and fight it with all our might.
The error of not seeing God in the circumstances leads to unbelief. It is a weak faith that determines that God is not in control of all things and that he is not powerful enough to stop what is going on in our lives. Worse yet, are those who state that Satan has dominion over a Christian’s life and can manipulate our daily dealings. There are no Bible passages to support any of those conclusions.
However, the Bible is clear in teaching us that God has a plan for our lives. He is squeezing believers into His image. He desires to chip away at our unbelief and create in us a holy Christ-like character and a heart of faith.
To comfort us, Scripture reminds us that Jesus Christ knows our weaknesses, and understands why we doubt His goodness. How can he know us? He practices Sympathetic Resonance. If I understand the theory correctly, we can imagine two tuning hooks in a block of wood. If a technician strikes the one hook and holds it to stifle the sound, the second hook will reverberate, although no one has touched it. It is likewise with Jesus Christ, who became man so that he can identify with our suffering.
Realize then, that the tools God uses to change us are for the greater good in our lives. He desires to complete what He started at the time of our conversion. In 1 Peter 5:10, it says, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (NASB)
In his book, The Cup and the Glory, Greg Harris says, “If you are suffering, God has given you specific elements to expect. He will perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish us. All are words of rebuilding and making strong that which is not. It points to His strength, not one’s self-effort. He gives us more than hope – He gives us Himself. God gives us the strength to endure our trials, even when we whine and are impatient and unthankful.” (Underline mine).
As Elisabeth Elliot says, “Suffering is not for nothing.”