Last night, after several days of extreme heat, we experienced what often happens here; a severe thunderstorm that brought with it marble-sized balls of ice that sounded like machine gunfire against the windows. How can words describe the fury of a hailstorm? It went on and on for more than half an hour, decimating plants and filling the gutters with rapids and piles of ice.
I grabbed my camera and went to the front door, somewhat sheltered from the storm. When I opened it, the first thing I noticed was a strong pine fragrance. The hail had battered our front yard tree, and while in the blast was doing much damage, it also released this pleasing smell. This morning in astonishing providence, this is the verse that God had placed in my devotional reading.
Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits. (Song of Solomon 4:16)
The author of the devotional said, and I quote, “Sometimes God sends severe blasts of trial upon His children to develop their graces. Just as torches burn most brightly when swung violently to and fro; just as the juniper plant smells sweetest when flung into the flames; so the richest qualities of a Christian often come out under the north wind of suffering and adversity. Bruised hearts often emit the fragrance that God loves to smell. Almost every true believer’s experience contains the record of trials which were sent for the purpose of shaking the spice tree.”
Whatever the power of this storm accomplished in a negative sense, God used it to give me a very powerful reminder that in the blast of this storm or any of life’s storms, the bruising is always accompanied by His purposes. He wants to bring forth the grace and beauty of a life submitted to His will, a life that is becoming more like Jesus.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:14–16)
Lord, you gave me the wonder of Romans 8:28-29 when You first came into my life. You use all things together for my good, that I might be transformed into the image of Your Son. You remind me again, this time using a storm and the smell of a pine tree, combined with this unusual verse that I might have passed over otherwise. Today, may I worship You, not only for Your power illustrated in storms and the release of sweet perfume, but for Your grace in and wisdom in giving meaning and purpose to life’s scarier events.