I’ve always found these verses to be both a comfort and a challenge. Just think about it: who doesn’t want to “flourish” and consider himself/herself to be a sturdy palm or majestic cedar tree planted in God’s garden for everyone to see?
I’ve often wondered what it means to flourish — or thrive — in biblical terms. Those who hold to a prosperity gospel theology (and I most certainly do not) may associate thriving with outward signs of prosperity, but I do not believe that to be the case. After all, you can have every material need met, but still be quite unhappy on the inside — in fact, many such persons are quite unsatisfied with life, despite their many (earthly) treasures.
As a counterpoint, take a look at the image below and ponder the life of a palm tree. Its trunk is fairly insubstantial, and when a big storm hits, its branches flail in the wind much like ordinary leaves do. However, despite the opposition, the palms remain.
In my mind, then, I associate thriving with growth and strength — and dare I say it, joy? — in the face of trials. It’s not so much how tall the palm (or cedar) may be, but rather how deep and sturdy its vast network of roots proves to be, such that the tree continues to grow, bear fruit, and bless others during the most turbulent of times.
What do you think? 🌴