The Grass Withers: Not Losing Heart in our Momentary Afflictions

SHARON ROCKWELL|GUEST

This month, our last child is getting married. And while I am thrilled with my son’s choice for his wife, and anxious to welcome his new bride into our family, it is a bittersweet time of change. This milestone is also a reminder that my parenting years are now officially over. It is another season of change. Only recently, I retired. The job that I so enjoyed and the accomplishments that went with it are now behind me. On top of that my body is beginning to betray me. My arthritic joints and myopic eyes often combine to remind me of what I could once do.

Each week after our Bible reading. the pastor of our church concludes with the words from Isaiah that “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Every time I hear these words, I think of how my life is withering. Withering is hard to face – and not much fun! We don’t like change, yet change is one of life’s constants. It is guaranteed. The Psalmist wrote about it clearly, though darkly in Psalm 103:15-16; “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.”

I could be discouraged with the Psalmist’s words if I did not continue to read the words that follow in verse 17: “But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children.” We change but God’s love never changes. He first loved us and in grateful response we love Him in return. Each sunrise holds the promise of newness and renewal.  I want to be steadfast in my faith and finish strong. I don’t want to cling to the past, enjoying sunsets I remember. I want to look forward to the work He still has for me, and to eternal fellowship with Him. And I take comfort in knowing that He loves my son and his new wife, both believers, who are also promised His mercy.

In this life we see things through a mirror dimly. We all know what it is like to have dreams, only to have them fade like the flowers. Withering may take many forms. Sometimes it is a physical ailment or illness that keeps us from realizing our deepest desires. Sometimes it is rejection by someone we thought was the love of our life, or sometimes it is the result of our own bad choices and the subsequent consequences. We mourn the things that might have been. Our bodies no longer cooperate with us. We come to see that life is too short to achieve all our goals. The frustration leads to disappointment, then to anger and ultimately to bitterness.

But we can cling to the promise in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Our temporary afflictions are to be considered minor compared to the glory that awaits us in eternity! This puts our withering into proper perspective. We can endure our afflictions knowing that we can let go of dreams that will not come to fruition this side of heaven. Our bodies may wither but our spirits soar as we are renewed daily by our Creator. We can forgive all manner of sin since our mind is set on the unseen eternal promises rather than the temporary problems of the day. We can walk through despair knowing that comfort ultimately awaits us. This truth sets us free to embrace all that we experience in this life with joy as we set our minds on the things that are everlasting. In doing so we learn to trust God’s will for our life on earth, and flourish in whatever our circumstances since they cannot even compare to what awaits us in glory.

Lord, as I realize the fragility of my life, help me to remember the constancy and eternity of your steadfast love for me. As I live with the pain of shattered dreams and a withering body, create in me a deep longing for your Word to renew me daily. Help me to not loose heart but to trust You as You prepare me for “glory beyond comparison.”

About the Author:

Sharon Rockwell

Sharon is recently retired from a career first as a chemist and then as a regulatory affairs consultant to the medical device industry.  She has served on the women’s ministry team at Grace Presbyterian Church in her home town of Yorba Linda, California, and has worked as the west coast regional advisor for the PCA.  Her husband, two married daughters and two married sons are all engineers, who provide interesting technical conversations for a dinner table.  Sharon is working on completing her bucket list which includes raising orchids, attending culinary school, bird watching and traveling.  She has two baby granddaughters and is looking forward to the third coming soon.

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