A Symbol of Hope
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ... ~ 1 PETER 1:3 (ESV)
At the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the site of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, I stood in front of the 168 memorial chairs remembering those who had died so tragically that day and the many whose lives had been shattered by this terrible act of violence.
As I turned to walk away, my eyes looked up to a hill not far away where a tree stood. It was an old American elm tree that had once stood in the parking lot and had been buried in the rubble of the bombing. Believing the tree dead, the clean-up crew almost chopped it down. But as they prepared to remove it, they discovered sprouts pressed through damaged bark. Forester experts were brought in, and the tree was saved.
The fact that the tree survived the bomb blast that killed so many people transformed it from a mere tree to a symbol for comfort and hope for all who survived. Life rose from an acre of death. It is called the Survivor Tree. And every year, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture collects seeds from the tree to grow seedlings that are eventually distributed to people throughout the United States, touching lives and transmitting a message of hope and new life.
During this season of Lent I can’t help but think about another tree that stood on a hill where out of death came life. Once Jesus was resurrected, the hold of sin and death was broken over mankind. We were set free from sin because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and we have a living hope through His resurrection from the dead. Everywhere people are affected by the ugliness of the world’s sinful choices, but we can plant seedlings of hope into their lives as we share the good news of Christ’s love with them.
My hope is in the Lord, Who gave Himself for me, And paid the price of all my sin at Calvary.
For me He died, For me He lives,
And everlasting life and light He freely gives.*
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and saving me through Jesus’ finished work on the cross. No matter what I’m facing in life and regardless of how difficult my circumstances may be, I have the hope and assurance that Jesus is alive and working on my behalf. In Jesus’ name, amen.
LINDA TURK, TRINITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
*My Hope Is in the Lord by Norman J. Clayton ©1945