When I observed this tree, I marveled that it seemed to thrive in the upper elevations of Bryce Canyon. Mostly rocky surfaces, this tree had managed to find enough dirt to exist and looked like it was growing on a rock rather than dirt. Over time, the wind and weather had stripped the surface away from the root structure. Yet, there it stood, strongly resisting these insults and continuing to grow.
I couldn’t help but compare this tree to our lives. Everyday stresses and the storms of life have a way of removing the protective covering we have and exposing our roots. Erosion results from a myriad of sources: health concerns, financial difficulties, job stresses, strained relationships, prodigal children, aging parents…the list is endless. Over time, dealing with these issues can tear away our sense of stability. Eventually, our roots may become exposed.
Usually unnoticed and underground, roots are vital to trees because they give the tree the water and nourishment it needs to grow and survive. Equally important is the support and stability trees have because of the root system, which can spread out deeper and wider than the exposed branches.
A weak root system contributes to the demise of the tree from undernourishment and/or toppling over in a storm. Strong roots, however, enable the tree to survive.
Some may think that the perfect atmosphere would lead to strong and perfect trees. But, the biosphere 2 experiment in the Arizona desert proved the opposite. These “protected” trees in the “perfect” environment grew faster than those outside the biosphere. However, they were thin and weak, frequently falling over. They determined that the wind creates stronger wood and healthier trees.
The very thing that shows surface erosion strengthens the tree. The same is true for us. Circumstances that cause us to reel and bend beneath the onslaught can lead to strength for the future. Even though our roots are exposed, if they are healthy, we will survive and thrive.
That strength can encourage others. The mighty redwood tree has a shallow root system, but the root systems are intertwined and those closest to the water supply share with other trees nearby.
God comforts and encourages us in the midst of our trials and we are expected to share this comfort with others. Exposed roots evidence strength.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 2 Co 1:3–4.