The picture above is one taken by my husband not far down the trail from the Oregon Trail wagon ruts we saw in Guernsey, WY. We rounded a bend in the path and all four of us stopped to admire it. I love how the limbs twist skyward, how it's still sturdy, though stark without any leaves or needles. I wonder if it stood there, sentinal over the wagons passing so close under its outspread limbs.
This tree has seen some adversity. Harsh winters, dry, summers, winds, storms, even death. And yet it has a beauty to it now that it wouldn't have without all those hard times. If this tree had been clothed in green like those that surrounded it, we wouldn't have stopped to look. It would've blended into the background, and we would've passed on by.
It makes me think of the adversity we all face. Illness, uncertainty, roadblocks, rejections. I have friends who are suffering through recent surgeries, through job losses, through loved ones who are injured, ill, or dying, or have recently passed away. Friends have been handed rejections of their work from editors, or been rejected by an agent.
These friends, though certainly touched by adversity, molded by it, forced to endure these hardships, are also made more beautiful by their struggles. These women (and men) have grown closer to the Lord, have come to rely more upon His grace and provision. They are people whose faith makes me take a second look, makes me stop and admire the beauty that God is creating in their lives, the refining elements that are revealing and shaping their characters.
Has hardship revealed and refined your character?