Friday, May 6, 2016

My hupomeno umbrella tree.

It is a short and somewhat unimpressive tree with a distinctive shape. The Chinaberry tree naturally grows with a rounded top and densely layered leaves on a multitude of branches, thus earning the common name of Umbrella tree. I can testify to the effectiveness in blocking out the oppressive Alabama summer heat. It is 15-20 degrees cooler under this tree than under the Maple trees twice its size!

This particular tree is a direct descendant of an Umbrella tree that grew at my grandparents’ home. Their children played under the shade, protected from the scorching heat. A sweet uncle gathered seeds and shared as a reminder of that precious memory.  

At this time of year, not only does it provide wonderful shade, it also has lovely and fragrant blooms. When visitors come into our garden area, it only takes a few seconds for them to look around to try to find the source of the sweetness permeating the air. They usually expect to find honeysuckle or lilac. When they follow their nose, they arrive under the umbrella tree and are rewarded with the full effect of hundreds of little purple and white bloomers mostly visible from beneath, looking up.  It is a heavenly aroma; entirely worth the search.  From a distance, the dainty blossoms are almost invisible, but from under the tree, they hang in clusters of purple striped beauty. A double blessing from under the tree!

I like to call it my “hupomeno tree.”  If that sounds like Greek to you, it is!  Hupomeno is the Greek word transliterated “endurance, patience and abide under”.  It is used in the first chapter of James as we are told to “consider it all joy when we encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”  These trials come in the form of suffering, pain, and difficult situations. During these times it is common to feel alone, abandoned, and weak. That is where the hupomeno comes in!  Enduring the situation may be impossible humanly speaking, BUT God provides a covering, a place under which we can abide, in order to get through the trial and prove (grow) our faith in Him.

Asa was an Old Testament king “who did good and right in the sight of the LORD, his God.” 2 Chronicles 14:2. When his army of 300,000 was outnumbered by an opposing army of a million, he called out to God and God shattered the opposing army. Asa had an insurmountable problem in front of him, and responded by calling on and trusting God. God proved He is worthy trust, Asa’s then and ours now. “The eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:9. 

Asa was reminded “the LORD is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake him, He will forsake you…in their distress they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him…be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.” 2 Chronicles 15:2,4,7. Even after he relied upon God and saw Him work, and he was reminded to continue to seek God, yet he didn’t. Some years later he was in a situation and tried to resolve it with silver and gold and a treaty instead of seeking God. He did not rely on God, acted foolishly and he did not win that battle.  

In the New Testament, the book of 1 Peter echoes the theme of James in that we can “greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1Peter 1:6,7.  Did you catch it? The result of the testing of our faith will be when He returns will be praise and glory and honor! Now that is worth rejoicing about! Like a woman in the midst of childbirth looks forward to the outcome – a child – she eagerly endures the temporary suffering.

Some lessons I have learned under the hupomeno/umbrella tree;

  • God is able to help me endure every trial in my life (just as this type tree sheltered my ancestors) because He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

  • God (like this tree) is near the ground to be close to you and surround you and protect you.

  • God will provide blessing during the trial if you look up to Him.   

  • When you look up, focus on the blooming blessings rather than the storm around you.

  • The storm will come to an end.

  • Other storms will come. Remember to seek God (stay near the tree).

  • Invite someone to join you there.

  • Share some seeds for more trees to be planted.

  • Abide and endure to the end – there is a reward.

Father in Heaven,
How thankful we are for the reminders all around us of Your faithfulness. We pray that You will help us abide under Your love to persevere and endure with patience the times of testing in our lives. Help us remember the rewards that await at the end, and of the blessing of Your presence during these difficulties.

I pray that the person reading this right now will seek You and find You and rely upon You as their stronghold for the rest of their life.  

Thank You for using this little tree to teach me. Spread the seeds of truth as You will.

Have you been through a trial when God saw you through? Are you in one now? Your comments are always welcome and encourage us!

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