Could a tree help you get through 2020? 

The story on this one particular tree just might.

Over the weekend, I was helping plant trees in our community. On Sunday, I snapped a photo of my son (pictured) up in a tree. All of this made me remember a story I read about this tree. 

Keep reading. 

In 2020, we all need this reminder.  

In his book Why Do I Love These People?, award-winning author Po Bronson tells a story about an American Elm Tree in the town of Beulah, MI.

Bronson explains that in the 1950s, an iron chain surrounded the trunk of the elm tree, as a farmer kept a bull chained to the tree. Over the years, the tree developed a deep gash. It was a gash so severe that many people thought it would eventually kill the American Elm Tree. 

That farmhouse eventually became home to a boy, who Bronson writes had an equally deep emotional scar. 

The boy’s mom and sister had been killed by a drunk driver. When the boy’s father remarried, according to Bronson’s story, the father left the son at the farm with his grandparents. 

As time went by, Dutch Elm Disease began killing all of the American Elm Trees in Beulah.

But not this particular tree.

Experts from Michigan State University came to see why only this particular American Elm Tree survived. They reached an interesting conclusion. 

“The university crew had only one theory to offer. Somehow, this scar, this chain – which for years everyone thought was going to kill the tree – instead had saved the tree’s life. They suggested that by absorbing so much iron from the chain, the tree had become immune. To the boy, this offered a powerful metaphor. Perhaps his scar was not going to kill him, either. Perhaps someday, when everyone expected it to destroy him, it might save his life.”  

I think it offers a powerful metaphor to a lot of us, too. 

Not just the boy. 

Especially in 2020. 

Recently, I’ve had my fair share of gashes. I have a bunch of circumstances that I wish I could change. It’s been tough. Not only that, I’ve had conversations with a lot of other people who have been deeply gashed by life as well. 

A whole lot of us are hurting. 

The good news for the Christ-follower is that when life gashes us – which the Bible promises will happen – it’s never just random. God has a purpose in allowing what He allows. 

It’s never arbitrary. 

It’s not because God is powerless. 

And it’s not because God is asleep on His throne.

The apostle Paul reminds us that God is working all things (even the really tough circumstances that gash us) out for our good. For proof of this, we need to look no further than the cross of Christ. God works out a plan of redemption for us through an extremely unjust and painful crucifixion of His Son. 

You may be hurting deeply now, but don’t give up!

God has a purpose in the gashes.