Discovering hope in a stubborn plant

Lorraine Murray

Lorraine Murray

Every spring, my late husband and I attended an orchid show and came happily home with new plants. He tended to their care and feeding, and under his watchful eye, the orchids flourished.

After he died, the plants started going downhill, and the only survivor is a bedraggled specimen, which has been stubbornly refusing to bloom.

Recently I moved it to the downstairs window beneath a plant light. To my astonishment, I soon detected tiny green flower spikes, which I saw as a message. Even in the darkest hour, we mustn’t abandon hope.

Particularly in winter, light is a precious commodity, especially for melancholics like me. No wonder I enjoy reading in the bedroom, where the afternoon sun paints a swath of light on the bed. While my cat, Fuzzy, basks in the warmth, I pretend I’m sunbathing at the beach.

To me it’s telling that God’s first spoken words in Genesis are “Let there be light,” which are mirrored later in Christ’s words: “I have come as a light into the world, so no one who believes in me shall remain in darkness.”

Hoping in politicians leads to the disillusionment of broken promises. Centering our hope in friends often yields disappointment, because they aren’t perfect.

Supernatural hope, however, is rooted in God’s promises, and never fails.

Scripture tells us building a house on sand isn’t wise, because sand shifts and the foundation caves in. Sand symbolizes the false promises of society, which say life’s bedrock should be youth, fame and money.

I heard a radio ad recently, enticing listeners to “treat themselves” by getting Botox injections in their lips. Sadly, the quest for youth thrusts us upon an endlessly spinning hamster wheel, leading to more creams, more injections, more denials of reality.

Placing our hope in God means our house rests on solid, unchanging ground that withstands catastrophes. With God as the bedrock of our lives, we can face whatever happens — even dwindling savings and sagging faces.

The Apostle Paul said, “We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance proven character, and proven character, hope.”

It can be challenging to see how afflictions lead to hope, but God can transform even the darkest situation. Seriously ill people sometimes feel especially close to God, who blesses their lives in surprising ways.

And the people who care for the dying may — through God’s grace — become more compassionate and experience the peace that surpasses human understanding.

My sister’s first husband was driving a compact car and narrowly escaped being crushed by a semi-truck. Another time, he nearly succumbed to diabetic shock, but my sister awakened in time to get help. It seems God was trying to awaken him to his own mortality.

But it wasn’t until my brother-in-law was dying from cancer that he finally faced the truth, when a hospital chaplain began visiting him. And, yes, he died in peace.

Our hope may be as tiny as the bud on an orchid plant, but when nurtured with the light of Scripture and prayers, it will produce miraculous flowers in springtime.

Lorraine’s email address is