Hope When Things Seem Lifeless

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty. – Zechariah 4:6 NIV

A few months ago, I received a desert rose plant as a gift. I loved its lush, green leaves and heavy flower buds just waiting to reveal the blooms hidden within.

With no idea how to take care of it, I consulted the Google genie and learned it likes a place in the sun and water every two weeks. Easy peasy.

Five weeks passed and its leaves began to curl and fall. Another week went by, and the once fat buds started to shrivel and droop.

I adjusted the watering and place it closer to the window. Don’t die little rose, you were a gift, I thought to myself.

Two weeks later, only its gray branches remained.

Gone was green and growth and life. Gone was the anticipation – the hope, of those pretty blooms. Leaves and buds rested in the dirt; wilted, brown and lifeless.

What went wrong? I did everything I was supposed to and it died anyway, I said to myself.

Then I thought, I’ve been here before. Many times.

Many times I’ve tended deeply to a relationship, a project, or a situation only to see it become more lifeless as each day passes.

I think the natural reaction is to keep nurturing, keep trying and keep protecting the thing that’s dying. But maybe, in our frantic efforts to save it, we end up drowning it instead.

There’s no shame. It’s an ordinary response to love.

Like when a child wanes or a marriage falters, we roll up our sleeves and try new things to spark new life and new passion. We do the same when our dreams crumble or friendships dwindle. Even when something within us is gasping for breath, we dig in, try harder, and press on to restore what’s fading away.

Yet, all this work creates a danger. A danger of too much self-sufficiency where our attempts to resurrect love, peace, joy, or purpose causes us to look not to God’s strength, but to our own.

We take the reins because we don’t like his method or timing. We twist and wrestle out of fear for the outcomes we desperately want to see – solutions with minor bruises and minor lessons learned.

But in all this, we miss the nature of the relationship. The relationship of an Almighty God who sends his Spirit to accomplish what our feebleness cannot. On our own, we only move from lifelessness to lifelessness. Every attempt we try may look like progress, but in reality it’s just another version of death.

I never threw the desert rose away. I left it on my dresser amid my books, quietly admitting it’s life was beyond my ability to save.

More than a month has gone by. Not a drop of sun or water has touched it’s bare branches or crumbling soil. Then, a few days ago, I went to get a book off my dresser and saw this:

photo: Raye Wortel

photo: Raye Wortel

Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.

He takes dry bones and breathes new life. You and I were not created to resurrect lifeless things. That’s why he’s called the Resurrection and the Life. Let’s give him those things we hold that are lifeless. I promise he does amazing work.

photo: Raye Wortel

photo: Raye Wortel

4 Replies

  1. Lori perez

    Thanks Raye. I need to remember this when it comes to one of my sons. I need prayer for it.

    1. Raye Wortel

      So glad you liked it, blessings to you!

  2. Devery

    Good stuff, my sister! Just what this seemingly lifeless bod needed.

    1. Raye Wortel

      You’re welcome.

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