Hebrews 6:19, 20
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
While driving through California’s 17-mile scenic drive in Pebble Beach, our family stopped to photograph one of the most infamous trees in North America, the Lone Cypress. Standing proudly on the granite hillside, the Lone Cypress has long been a symbol of strength, grace and beauty. Morton Cathro wrote the following about the Lone Cypress in his June 7, 1987 article in the Los Angeles Times: “Ravaged by arsonists’ fire splattered with pranksters’ paint, stripped by vandals and whipped by relentless ocean winds, one of America’s sturdiest and most familiar natural landmarks still poses proudly for yet another generation of camera-carrying travelers.”
Generations have made a pilgrimage to pay homage to this hardy tree that is representative of survival and perseverance. Its presence reminds us of ourselves and others who have experienced the fire of adversity and the relentless assaults that come from living in a fallen world. Through respectful admiration we are reminded of the times that our human dignity has been stripped away and we have lain naked, bare and exposed as a result of uninvited and uncontrollable emotional or physical afflictions.
The common denominator of humanity is that we cannot escape life’s adversities. Although we collectively acknowledge that humanity does not permit us to transition from time into eternity unscathed, our finite minds cannot comprehend the unutterable and often profound suffering that resides with mortality. The most faith-filled followers have questioned God’s intentions in the midst of dire circumstances.
Matthew 11:2-3 records the words of John the Baptist before his beheading: “When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’” It was John who identified Jesus as the Lamb of God. If the one person who ought to have known better responds to hardship with such qualms, what is left for the rest of us?
Jesus succinctly responds to all who struggle in the midst of dire and unrelenting circumstances. Mark 8:33 reads, “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” We do not view our circumstances through eyes stamped with eternity, but through a lens that cannot comprehend the Divine. Often the pain that accompanies us in our worldly journey eradicates the Romans 8:28 perspectives that affirms “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Our brief sojourn on earth, as difficult as it may be, should be regarded from the eternal perspective as penned by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:18 when he declared, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” As the Lone Cypress thrives anchored to the granite hillside, we endure through the vicissitudes of life as we are anchored to God through His Word and by the power of His Spirit. “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other” (Deuteronomy 4:39).
Father God, hold us close to you when the pain of life’s journey would draw us away. Guard and encourage our hearts when hope has been eclipsed by despair. May we hold firm to the fact that neither death nor life, angels nor demons, not the present nor the future, or any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. May we grasp that in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). This we pray for Thy Glory, in Jesus’ name. Amen.