[A]nd the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:2).

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25a).

Not so very long ago, Susan and I transplanted a “volunteer” crepe myrtle from an ornamental bed along our side fence to a flower bed outside our bedroom window. We made sure to preserve plenty of the little tree’s roots, bury and water them, and generally treat it with care. We’ve enjoyed our other crepe myrtles, including another volunteer that is now flourishing outside our laundry room, and we wanted this one to prosper as well.

We gave the tree awhile to get acclimated to its new home, then started looking for growth on it. Nothing. Every day we checked, and still it looked like a dead stick with branches. We were about to give up when suddenly we noticed green shoots on it. Now it’s leafing out very nicely, and we believe it’s going to make it, becoming the beauty we hoped for next to our patio.

I doubt very much that it’s coincidence that right about the time we saw growth on the crepe myrtle, we received two pieces of bad news. One concerned a young (31) member of my extended family who died after a horrific fight with cancer, leaving a wife and two young sons. The other was from a dear friend of my wife’s, who reported to Susan that her cancer had returned and there was nothing more to be done.

No, it wasn’t coincidence. It was providence. God in his mercy showed us a sign of hope when we could have despaired, having heard such news of death and sickness. A tree that seemed dead was now filled with green leaves, promising beautiful blossoms in due season. And that reminded us, and reminds us still, that even when death seems to have the upper hand, God has something else in mind. The ultimate power in the universe is not death, but life; the final reality not the grave, but resurrection.

© 2009 Tom Cheatham