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Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Winds of Adversity

“Awake, north wind,

and come south wind!

Blow on my garden,

that its fragrance

may spread abroad.”

Song of Songs 4:16 NIV

Do I welcome adversity? Absolutely not! In fact I dread adversity. Do I dread the process and fear the outcome? Yes, in fact adversity sends my heart immediately straight to worse case scenario. But I do believe that Jesus understands those feelings. The Bible records that Jesus dreaded the cross but he also choose to say, "not my will but thy will be done." Fear seems to be so natural. It usually is my first response. Yet God has provided an antidote for fear. God’s antidote is his wonderful peace.

Some days when I am in the garden I feel that all of the flowers have faded except for the bleeding hearts that surround my feet. If I continue to look downward at my bleeding heart I may succumb to fear, worry, and even depression. Many times in life I have experienced deep sorrow that has caused me extreme grief. Grief is the emotional mechanism that God uses to cleanse our sorrow. However, grief is meant to last only for a season and then God gently moves us ahead. Refusing to move on with God is dangerous.

Sometimes the winds of adversity carry the destruction of a tornado but God says, take my hand. I must admit that there have been times that I did not feel that I could even reach up to God let alone take his hand. But God doesn’t require much, he only requires faith the size of a mustard seed. When we take a chance on God he rewards even the smallest mustard seed of faith. Because sin has entered our world I can be sure that the winds of life will blow and that trouble will find its way into my life. It will be the kind of trouble that will cause me to dig deep into my soul and look to God for his help and strength. Without a doubt, God will be there waiting to take may hand.

Today I am sitting in the garden reading from the Song of Songs. I am surprised to discover that Solomon is actually asking for both the north and the south winds to blow on his garden. Why? Solomon understood that the strong winds of adversity were sure to be followed by God’s pleasant and temperate breezes of peace for those who trust in the Father. Solomon knew that he would never know the blessing of God’s peace in his life if his life was always without trials, nor would he ever experience the sweet fragrance that emits as the Holy Sprit blows is sweet peace into our heart if we never experience need. Solomon prayed for both the northern cold winds of adversity and the balmy southern breezes of peace. He prayed that the fragrance of that peace would be spread abroad so that God would be glorified.

As I consider that thought I reach down and pluck a dandelion that has been spent. Nothing but the frail fluffies remains. I take a deep breath and blow all of the white feathery particles into the air. This weed-flower that was once brilliant with golden yellow petals is now blowing abroad. I’m not really sure where they go or where they will land. But one thing for sure is that this one dandelion will multiply.

I am captivated by the thought, blow wind blow over my garden so that its sweet fragrance may multiply. I begin to realize that my life is just like that of a dandelion. Frankly, if I remember correctly dandelions don’t smell very sweet. But without Jesus in my life neither do I. Oh sometimes sweetness comes easy especially when things are going my way and when I am surrounded by like minded people, a nice paycheck, good health and wonderful kids. But in adversity my sweetness starts to fade. I need the sweet breath of Jesus to blow on my garden his peace into my heart, because only then will the winds blow Jesus’ sweet fragrance abroad.

So it is in being crushed by adversity that God offers me an opportunity to release his fragrance to others. It is by needing forgiveness that I learn the sweet fragrance of forgiving. It is in needing provision that I learn to give to others. It is in experiencing sorrow that I learn to comfort. When I am feeling backed into a corner it is then that I learn how to be merciful. It is when others judge me wrongly that I learn not to judge. It is when I am sick and suffering that I learn how to show loving compassion to others who are sick and suffering.

Awake north wind and come south wind! Blow on my garden. I pray, change me Lord so that when you allow adversity into my life I will not become bitter but rather better. My heart’s garden belongs to you. Blow on my garden according to your will so that its fragrance my spread your love abroad through me.

Frankly the thought of adversity still scares me to death! But God has promised me that his grace will be sufficient for me and that he will never leave me or forsake me. It has been my experience that God always gives me exactly what I need the very moment I need it and not a single minute before. So I will continue to pray for God’s grace in my life in all circumstances.

Before I leave the garden I will pick some dandelions to carry back into the house with me. I will place this small nosegay on my breakfast table and later I will carry it into my office. Tonight I will place it on my night stand and I will sleep in peace knowing that when the winds of adversity blows on my garden God has a purpose and a plan to make something beautiful come from my pain and brokenness. I believe with all my heart that God is able to take the stench of the dandelions and in good time blow the fluffies of his love and grace abroad and miraculously change the stench into a sweet fragrance that only comes from knowing and trusting Jesus.


When was the last time you found yourself in the middle of a situation that made your heart pound with fear? Are you there now?

When adversity comes into your life is your first response to try and fix the situation yourself?

How long is it before you pray?

How does the thought of welcoming adversity strike you?

Can you see that trusting God in all things is a response that will spread his sweet fragrance to others?


Dear God,

I do not welcome adversity. In fact, I hate it! Thank you for not expecting me to embrace the hard times in life. However God, I do desire to embrace you as I deal with my adversity. I ask that your Holy Spirit give me daily strength and grace as I walk through life’s difficulties. God I pray that through your mysterious ways you will shape my character and help me to become a person who depends on you as I endeavor to overcome life’s adversities. God I don’t know about the future but I know you and you are the one who holds the future. Father, give me your grace to trust you today and tomorrow. Awake, north wind, and come south wind! Blow on my garden that your fragrance may spread abroad.

In Your Son’s Name I Pray. Amen.