A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN.
A tree grew in Francie Nolan's yard. Writer Betty Smith told about that tree in the famous book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn:
The tree in Francie's yard was neither a pine nor a hemlock. It had pointed leaves which grew along green switches which radiated from the bough and made a tree which looked like a lot of opened green umbrellas. Some people called it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps, and it was the only tree that grew out of cement.
That tree wasn't planted by caring hands in a grassy park. No one watered it. No one tied it to a strong stake to help it grow straight. But it grew anyway. It started its life by poking its tender shoots through cracks in cement. It struggled. It searched for sunlight. It stretched its roots underground to find water. But always, always, it kept straining to reach the sky. It kept struggling, until it grew tall.
That picture of a tree growing in Brooklyn is a picture of what perseverance can do. The struggles that tree had to go through to grow made it grow strong and tall. And your struggles can do the same thing for you. The Bible says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4, NIV).
In other words, perseverance can make you like that tree in Brooklyn: strong, tall, mature, complete, not lacking anything. If you learn to persevere even when it's hard, even when you're tired, even when everything seems to stand in your way, you will grow taller and stronger and more mature-if you let perseverance "finish its work."
REFLECT: According to today's Bible reading, what does the testing of your faith produce? What does perseverance do for you? Has your faith ever been tested? If so, in what ways?
PRAY: "Heavenly Father, please make me like that tree in Brooklyn. Help me to keep trying and growing so that I can someday be mature and complete, not lacking anything."