The tomatoes are ripening again. And these tiny taste bombs are just as delicious as ever. Only this year so far, there aren’t so many of them. I planted them as usual and they were coming up fine, but then we had a very poorly person in the house and my last priority was the survival of the garden. When I finally managed to find some pots to plant them out in, they were in a terrible state of malnourishment, all leggy and overstretched, and then we had a late frost which turned them an odd purple colour. In spite of all that, they managed a few flowers which have proceeded to fully ripen. However, their redeeming moment came when I discovered a box of blood and bone meal, and I just threw a few handfuls at them. Within days these poor wilting specimens struggling for survival suddenly had a new lease of life. New green foliage arrived, and there are now lots of flowers in various stages of producing those little red bundles of flavour.
Jacob spoke of his favourite son Joseph that he was ‘a fruitful vine near a spring’, but that he had come under attack (Genesis 49:22-26). Like my tomato plants, he started out with full opportunity to prosper, but then came to a time of hardship and difficulty, when his brothers got jealous of him and sold him into slavery. Nevertheless, he had managed to ‘stay steady’. How? Because of the strength given to him by God. My poor little neglected tomatoes took on a new lease of life when some fertilizer was applied. Joseph flourished in difficulty because he learned to find the strength that only comes from the Almighty.
For most of us, when difficulties arise, we begin to wonder where God has got to. We start to think that he has forgotten us, or cast us aside, or just doesn’t care. In doing that, we cut ourselves off from the very source of our strength. Somehow we enjoy feeling sorry for ourselves, wallowing in it, as if that could help! However hard it feels, we have to remind ourselves that there really is no-one else we can turn to who can actually make us feel better. Joseph didn’t deserve to be the favourite son – it was simply because he was the son of Rachel. Nor did he deserve to be treated so badly. But he clung to the one who could help him, and never let go. And that’s why he earned the title ‘prince among his brothers’.
Whatever life throws at you, having a pity party only makes a situation worse. The winner is the one who knows where his or her strength comes from, and makes sure they cling to the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.