As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 2 Corinthians 6:4-10
Remember this hibiscus in my backyard? I shared the pic on the right at the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020. My beautiful hibiscus housed Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal’s nest and bloomed profusely for weeks.
The photo to the left is the very same hibiscus from this April 2021. Do you see what I see?
It looks like the hibiscus has really been through the wringer. It didn’t thrive through the hot, dry summer or the cold, windy winter and spring. Despite good care, it is sparse, missing leaves, and yellowed. And yet, if you look closely, it blooms on. The flowers may not be as bright or bold or beautiful. But they persist.
This hibiscus represents us as we weather the pandemic. We have really been through the wringer. Maybe we can relate so some of Paul’s challenges. We have been pummeled with more challenges than we could’ve imagined. Despite all our spiritual connections, we are tired and troubled. We are showing signs of wear, but we are still blooming with flowers of faith, hope, and love! We are rallying in new ways to love our neighbors sharing grace, mercy, and peace. We find ways to be grateful in the midst of our challenges.
The apostle Paul says it best in 2 Corinthians. By the grace of God, we are still standing in patience, kindness, and sincere love. These are the blooms of our faith. No matter what comes our way or goes away, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength and the love that we need to go on. We can do this. God is with us. We will persist. Not only that; we will bloom on!
Flowers of faith, Pastor Andrea