By Renee James.
Our summer series on resilience continues. Last week we finished with a cliffhanger of sorts: strength comes from a surprising place.

Did you know that your strength comes from struggle?

Tina Rae wrote an excellent Bible study on roots that’s on this website. It’s part of our 2015 – 2017 online Bible studies, designed to unpack the theme: Strong and Steady. Give Your All.
(Visit the page and see if your Bible study group or any other group of ladies at your church would enjoy doing this study – or any of the others in the series. We post a new study every other month.)

In her study, Tina quotes this from author Peter Boland:
“Twenty years ago when scientists built Biosphere 2, a vast, enclosed ecosystem in the mountains of Arizona, they planted, among other things, trees. The trees inside the sealed enclosure grew more rapidly than their wild cousins outside. But they were thin and weak with underdeveloped root systems. Some even fell over from their own weight. At first scientists were mystified. Why would trees not thrive in this ‘perfect’ environment? Then they realized that the trees were weakened by the absence of the one thing not included in Biosphere 2: wind. In the wild, trees must withstand strong wind and as a result develop what botanists call stress wood – strong, fibrous wood that vastly improves the quality of life for a tree.” (

In fact, stress wood helps a tree position itself for optimal sun absorption and it also helps trees grow more solidly. Without stress wood, as those scientists discovered, a tree can grow quickly, but it cannot support itself fully. It cannot withstand normal wear and tear, and survive. In other words, the trees needed some stress in order to thrive in the long run.

Stress Wood

In Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT) we read a beautiful description of stress wood: “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” (italics mine)

Know the soil in which you’re planted: Know God. And know how He sees you.

Are you positioned for “optimal sun absorption” and solid growth?

Put another way, how have you made the LORD your hope and confidence? I know. Biosphere living invites you to coast on last year’s faith and decades-old testimonies. And frankly, there are months and seasons when a planned retreat from all that wearies, humiliates and disappoints feels like your wisest choice. But retreats are only that. Retreats. At some point you must return . . . to all that wearies, humiliates and disappoints. To all that gives you deep joy, offers hope, brings peace.

As Tina Rae writes in her study, living in protected walls where you feel safe and nothing can hurt you may feel good right now, but your roots won’t grow deep and when the winds of challenge, of adversity, of trials come . . . how strong will you be?

Strength comes from struggle.

So choose to optimize the Son. Choose to grow solidly. Next week’s post is a poem. And a testimony about the importance of struggle.

Have a comment or question? Reach out. We’d love to hear from you. Or visit our Facebook group page, join our community and leave a comment there.

(And don’t forget: Do visit our 2015 – 2017 resources page and see if women at your church would enjoy doing Tina’s study – or any of the others in the series. We post a new study every other month.)