I love springtime! Sprucing up my yard and home with colorful flowers and beautiful plants is a favorite pastime that makes me smile.
A couple years ago, I added some pygmy palm trees to our home’s landscape. They are known to do well with proper care and a little pruning. I planted two in the yard and two in large planters. I was excited to watch them grow.
I thought I did a good job looking after them, but I soon noticed distinct differences between the ones in the yard and the ones in the planters. The trees I regularly pruned were noticeably taller and healthier than the ones that had not had as much attention. They were also producing tender new palm branches from the top center of the trees, each one reaching toward the sun. I marveled at how they knew to stretch toward their source of life. The two palms that received less attention were not exactly living their best lives.
My gardening lesson reminded me of Psalm 92:12–13: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God” (NIV).
The repetition of the word “flourish” in this passage piqued my interest, and I searched for its meaning. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a period of thriving” and “to grow luxuriantly.” The Hebrew definition, the original language of the Old Testament, refers to a “breaking forth” and “blooming.” In the New Testament, the word appears once and means “to put forth anew.”
God’s loving intention for His people is that we grow in maturity and fruitfulness as we shed our old nature and bloom anew.
I can’t speak for my palm trees, but in my human experience, growing is hard work. Flourishing doesn’t just magically happen for plants or for people. It requires a pruning process that can be downright painful and sometimes make you question the Lord’s goodness.
But I’ve learned that in those times, we must take our cue from the palm trees and keep stretching for the “Son.” Jesus’s light will sustain us and cause our faith and love for others to flourish (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
God’s pruning process comes in different forms. Sometimes it requires the removal of selfishness, pride, stubbornness, bitterness, hate, and jealousy. As we submit our emotions to God and renew our hearts and minds with His Word, we experience God’s perfect will for our lives (Romans 12:2). His Holy Spirit will help us grow in love, grace, and humility. He will develop a desire in us to walk in obedience to His Word.
At times, pruning requires the removal of people and things. Hebrews 12:1 says we are to cut away anything that hinders our steps. Sometimes even beautiful things must be cut away to make room for God’s better. Those are the hardest things to release.
You can trust the pruning process to the hands of the Master Gardener. Pruning is evidence of His love for you. God knows which branches to cut off so you can be fruitful and experience an abundant life (John 15:1–8). Whatever He removes will make space for something more beautiful than you can imagine.
Let His promises sustain you as you bloom into the person He intends you to be. God will help you grow, produce fruit, and remain full of life even into old age (Psalm 92:13–15).
Now that is some much-needed hope, isn’t it? May it nourish your soul as you flourish in your relationship with Jesus.
LINDA CUBBEDGE-SMITH was Victorious Living’s Prison Correspondence Outreach Director from 2014 until June of 2021. She is currently working on a book about the goodness of God and remains passionate about leading others to Him.