I have a plant I took from a fellow volunteer’s school a few weeks ago, and since taking the clipping, I was worried it wouldn’t take root. It had travel hours and hours in 4 different bush taxis, a bus, and a pickup truck, and had been jumbled around, stressed, and thoroughly shaken to bits over the dirt roads. On top of all that, the stem was too short so when I repotted it, it balanced precariously in the soil. I tried to give it the most nutritious soil I could, given the Kalahari desert sand, by mixing in some manure and worm compost, but I still had my doubts.
I kept it in the sun by my north facing window and kept it watered, even giving it some worm tea. But it showed no sign of growth. Being a succulent, I knew it wouldn’t shrivel and dry up quickly, but I had given up. I wrote it off as a lost cause, knowing it had been through too much to grow and flourish again.
Yesterday I plucked it out of the soil in a last ditch effort to save it, ready to clip off its large bottom leaves in hopes of burying the stem deeper and possible encouraging growth. Imagine how astounded I was to see a small bit of brilliantly white root reaching from the bottom of the plant, clinging to the nourishing soil. I immediately became joyful, realizing this beautiful plant had survived against all odds. Despite its hard transition to its new home, it found the strength the send out a new root, drinking in the nourishment of the soil.
Some people go through extremely difficult lives, facing loss, pain, and tragedy most of us can’t fathom, and many do so without knowing the Lord. They too have been battered through life, losing everything they knew and are forced to pick up the pieces of their lives and begin anew. I admire the strength and perseverance of the people who are able to do so. Against all odds, they can survive. Just as I meticulously cared from my plant, attempting to give it the best chance of survival, we must encourage and nourish those who are struggling. We must show God’s love in how we treat everyone in our lives, not just our Christian friends. Some suffer quietly, and a nice word or simple act of kindness can start them on the path to healing and joy. And someday, we may well be in their shoes (or even now are) and may need encouragement just as they do.
We must strive to always share the love of God through our actions. So many people in our world are suffering, and even a smile or a quick prayer can do a world of good. As Christians, we ought to care just as Jesus cared for those who were suffering. Jesus shared love to everyone, not just those who were His believers. As He did, so we must do.
I challenge you to find a way to share God’s love to the needy, broken, and suffering. Volunteering has changed how I view the world, and I encourage you to find volunteer opportunities where you live. You don’t need to travel halfway around the world to make a difference-there are people who are hurting in your community. Help them find the nourishment of God’s love and show them the power of His grace and mercy. And even if it seems like your actions are making no difference, do not give up. You never know when the roots of their hearts will start to take hold. If I had simply stopped watering this plant that seemed like a lost cause, it would have never had the chance at a new life. But now it can grow, be nourished, and eventually flourish. Given the right conditions, people can do the same.
When was a time when someone’s encouragement helped you through a tough time? How has that affected you?