“Once there was a great tree. This tree stood in the middle of a large forest surrounded by others of its kind, but of all those in the forest it was the tallest and strongest. It had the thickest bark and the densest leaves, its roots ran to touch water that others could not. Over the years, the tree grew and thrived. 

One evening a powerful storm began to grow over the forest. The sky darkened and the wind heightened, but the tree stood unconcerned. Storms had come before, and the tree was confident in the God who planted him and grew him up to keep him safe. He knew that same God had sent this storm. 

But this storm proved different than the others. 

With a bright flash and loud crack, a bolt of lightening struck the tree. It split his branches and rent bark from wood. The storm fought on, and the tree became weary from fighting back. 

Finally, the morning emerged and shed light on the forest. The tree expected his surroundings to look the way he felt; ravaged and broken. But what he found did not match his expectations. 

Everything around him looked much the same as it had. Green leaves of the trees around him reflected sunlight off the rain drops that were the only proof of the treacherous night before. 
Everything around him was alive and nourished; he was broken.  

His bark lay scattered around him like metal from a reversed magnet. Branches that were once large and strong were now split and fallen; still and lifeless on the ground. He could feel the places they were once attached. 

The pain of his exterior however, was nothing compared to his interior. His heart ached, and he thought, “Why me? Why have I been attacked and forced to sit among those who were spared the fury of the storm?” 

His pain was rooted in confusion, and soon his confusion turned to anger. This anger lasted through the summer and fall and grew through the harsh cold of winter, a painful reminder of the removal of his protection from the weather, as he sat in a state of unchanging brokenness. 

But soon spring came, and slowly, he started to heal. Where his sap had once leaked, scars were forming to protect him. Where leaves had been torn off by the wind, new buds began. Charred wood stayed, but life continued on. He wasn’t the same, but he was healing. 

As years went by he grew in spirit as well as in rings. His scars were visible, as he knew they would be for the rest of his life, but they reminded him of the things he’d forgotten in his time of blame and anger:
There doesn’t have to be a higher reason for bad things that happen. His scars weren’t a sign of hate or scorn or abandonment. Lightning strikes the tallest tree in the forest because of science, not because of spite, but that didn’t mean the tree couldn’t make it mean something. In his mind, the one who achieves the most, climbs the mountain highest, finds his way the fastest, is the one who meets the greatest challenges.  

He could be a sign of faith and hope and renewal. A sign that although there wasn’t a choice or a reason in being struck, although the lightning wasn’t sent intentionally, he survived. He found strength in knowing that he would heal, even if it moved slower than he wanted, and he lived on joyfully in the forest for many years more.”


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