There is a vineyard in Italy where the vines grow on a slope which faces all kinds of bad weather, the soil is rocky and the conditions don’t look good for producing anything approaching fine wine. As we wandered around the vineyard last year the manager told us that the wine from these vines was the best, that years of struggling to grow in adverse conditions produced a crop which out shone the other vines that grew in pleasant sunshine all year round.
I was chatting to a work colleague yesterday who was explaining a problem with his knee. The problem was that there wasn’t enough of a problem, he had something wrong with his tendon and the only way to fix it was to make it worse. The only way his body would wake up and realise healing needed to start was to damage it further. He needs keyhole surgery not to fix his knee but to scrape the tendon some more so his body can start healing.
There’s a place, no wait, there are many places in the Bible which echo this experience. Our faith hinges around a man who came not to conquer and rule but to suffer and serve, we live in a broken world and we ourselves are broken. Suffering is part of our lives. We are told not to be surprised when it happens, we are told to remember God cares for us in the midst of it and we are told that it’s not pleasant at the time but later a harvest of righteousness will come.
In the midst of pain that’s a twinkling star in the otherwise black sky, but it’s a pinprick of light nonetheless. We follow the pattern laid out in this world, suffering and pain are sometimes needed for greater healing. The night sky is darkest before the dawn. There is hope in this world. There is awaiting a harvest, a home and a welcome.