Sometimes life brings harsh winds. Sometimes you feel pressed beyond measure. Sometimes your journey includes the process of pain. But through those harsh winds, the pressing, and the process of pain, a greater purpose emerges.
Yesterday I spoke with one of our dear church members who is weathering a lot of harsh winds right now. She described feeling pressed beyond measure, and she currently is wrestling through the process of great pain.
Words alone are inadequate to bring strength and comfort, save the Word that became flesh (John 1:14). God did not verbalize a response to the struggles of life. He embraced the struggles and endured the pain (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Jesus awaited His arrest as He agonized at the base of the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39). He ascended after His resurrection from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-12). And one day He will return first to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). Man of Sorrows and King of Kings—both witnessed by a hillside of trees.
Why the attention given to this particular location? Speculations abound, but I like the conclusion drawn by Christian author and speaker, Lysa Terkeurst. Lysa describes how the Mount of Olives is normally associated with Jesus’s suffering, but it is also a place of Jesus’s victory and celebration. And so it is with life—suffering doesn’t have to be the final word.
The olive trees from which that hill derived its name also teach us lessons about gaining victory out of suffering. One lesson is that olive trees grow through harsh winds from the east and cool winds from the south. Both are needed to produce olives. Also, the olive itself is not the most valued commodity. Only when the olive is pressed does it yield its oil, which is then used for greater purposes. Finally, the olive is not edible coming straight from the tree. It receives a thorough process to rid the fruit of its hardness and bitterness.
Likewise, we grow through harsh winds as well as more favorable conditions. When we feel pressed beyond measure, God can actually produce something greater in our lives. And ridding ourselves of hardness and bitterness often includes enduring a process of pain.
You may be “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Why? Because you are carrying with you (and being carried by) the very One who faced the harsh winds, was pressed beyond measure, and endured the process of pain. Jesus “bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Your life may be marked by these lessons from the Mount of Olives. And your mount of sorrow can one day become a mount of great rejoicing.