By Jody Bennett

Don’t give up hope

Seasons of the soul

candles

I'm not a very good gardener. I have a limited ability to identify anything in the garden and I don't really know how to cater to a specific plant's needs beyond watering, pruning and occasional feeding.

The first time we got wisteria vines was just before winter. They looked good with lots of leaves but soon after I planted them the leaves fell off and they were just bare sticks. I thought they were dead, pulled them and replaced them with jasmine! Only when I replanted wisteria elsewhere did I realise that they go dormant during winter and if I just leave them alone, come spring they will once more be covered in beautiful purple flowers and green leaves.

I have another potted purple plant with succulent leaves that does the same. In winter the whole thing dies and there looks like there is nothing in the pot. The first time it happened I put the pot back in the shed, planning to replant it with something else the next spring. But by time I looked at it again there was a little plant emerging. I realised it must be a bulb of some sort, so this year I left the empty-looking pot on the patio and watered it occasionally. Sure enough there are now four tiny leaves greeting the spring.

All this made me think of how there are seasons in our lives too. Seasons where we may see only dry twigs or empty soil, seasons where it looks impossible for there to ever be flowers again. Unless we realise that "this too will pass" and seasons change, then hopelessness could set it and we could give up.

plant

I imagine that is why suicide is so common amongst teenagers – they don't have the life experience to realise that no matter how dreadful the situation they are in, things will change. They will grow up, school will be over, the abuse will eventually stop, they will make friends.

If you are going through a "dark night of the soul" as Saint John of the Cross called it, may I encourage you to hang in there? Don't give up. It will pass. So many of the stories in this paper tell of people who have reached rock bottom – ended up in jail, fallen into deep depression, been divorced or bereaved, suffered abuse or had a terrible diagnosis; but then they have found Jesus in the midst of their crisis and hope has dawned in their lives like spring.

King David, who knew a thing or two about hard times, also found God to be the source of his hope: "I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit ... weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:1-5).

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