Who knew? Four summers ago, our daughters gave me elderberry bushes for my birthday. You might think that was an odd gift, but they knew me well…
My Midwest roots developed my appreciation for elderberries. My great-grandmother made elderflower wine. And pie. And jellies. And syrup. My grandma and mom made pies, too. I remember many summers helping to stem the berries (a fiddly task!) and then waiting expectantly for pie on the dinner table.
I have a particular fondness for these small, earthy berries, particularly in pie. But, they are hard to find here in the MidAtlantic, except occasionally in the Whole Paycheck freezer section. Apparently, now they are increasingly popular for smoothies because of all of the fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins in them. If you tell people that elderberries make great pie, they look at you kind of funny.
“What do they TASTE like,” they ask. “DELICIOUS!” I say. “They taste delicious!” (Do I really want people to learn to like elderberries? No, not really!)
In the years since the cultivars were planted, our family has gone through a lot… Not just COVID, though that was bad enough for all of us. There were highs and lows. We experienced Mom’s death, both daughters successfully starting careers, and then this year, both my husband and I being diagnosed with cancer. Lots of life changes…
I thought about all that had happened in our lives and marveled. As these bushes were planted, much was unknown. Who knew what we would experience this year – the year we got our first real pie? Last year, we had so few berries, I only had one small tart. This year… the daughter cultivars are flourishing, and we harvested a gracious abundance!
Who knew all that we would go through?
Without question, I know that God knew!
Over and over in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, God’s faithful ones recount the ways that they saw the Divine’s Presence in their struggles. They shared their doubts, anger, frustrations, and fears, all the while saying “…but as for me, I will praise You. …I will trust You.” The Psalms of David are full of his honest questions and unwavering faith. The writer/s of Isaiah express belief in the midst of culture-ravaging occupations. The followers of Christ wrote of their unwavering trust in their God while being persecuted. The examples are too numerous to mention!
Don’t believe me? The entire chapter of Hebrews 11 relates example after example of those who lived by faith.
Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see. The elders in the past were approved because they showed faith. By faith we understand that the universe has been created by a word from God so that the visible came into existence from the invisible. (Hebrews 11:1-3, Common English Bible)
As I enjoyed the final piece of pie last night, I reflected on the goodness of the Lord. YES. The goodness of the Lord. The events of this year were not a surprise to the Divine. The questions I face are not beyond God’s wisdom or understanding. As those elderberry cultivars were taking root in our garden, the Holy One knew what we would experience.
The reality of my cancer does not wipe out God’s faithfulness. The unanswered questions, the whys, the raging anger, the deep fears… all of these do not discredit the God who loves me. As the seasons roll one into the next, I will look to God’s continued care for me and my spouse, and our daughters.
We will press on – tired (at times), worried, and yet, at peace. Through all of the ups and downs, in the hard days and the celebrations, God is faithful. I hang on to that truth. Thanks for reading and walking through this with us.