Easy Answers

I heard a story the other day about a small town man with four sons. He’d raised them in his hometown outside of the city and somewhat disconnected from the world. As his sons were getting older, the man began to fear that his sons had not learned the importance of tolerance and may grow up to be rather judgmental. To avoid this, he decided to teach sons a very valuable lesson.

On the outskirts of town, there was a pear tree. It was large but still good distance away from the town. He decided send each of his sons, during a different season of the year, to see the pear tree. The eldest son went during the winter. The second son went during the spring. The third son went during the summer. The youngest son went during the fall. At the end of the year, the man called his sons together and asked them each about the tree.

The first son said that the tree was old and bent and twisted. It seemed ugly and dead to him. The second son disagreed and said that the tree was lush and covered in green buds. It seemed fresh and full of promise to him. The third son also disagreed and said that the tree was covered in blossoms and filled with beauty. It seemed graceful and elegant to him. The last son disagreed with all of them. He said that it was ripened and covered with fruit. It seemed to be filled with life and hope to him.

The sons began to argue about what the tree was really like. The old man finally stopped them and explained that the reason they couldn’t agree on the tree’s true appearance was because they had only seen it in one stage of its life. In order to really judge something accurately, you have to see it in every stage.

Life is a roller coaster. I don’t know if you ever share highs and lows with your family or friends but when I think about it, for every high I can come up with, there’s also a low. Isn’t that the way it goes? Some days we feel fresh and full of promise and others we feel ugly and dead.

And this is all rightfully so. I mean this is a rough season to be living in. There’s war abroad, financial crisis at home, political turmoil within our own government, terrible weather patterns lately, earthquakes, oil spills, volcanoes, terrorism… the list goes on. I know that as a student this semester, I’ve been looking at colleges, taking standardized tests, juggling homework and extracurricular activities. There are days that it just feels like a downward spiral.

I heard another story the other day about a high school in Littleton. This School was the largest of the three schools in its district. It was fed by kids from Littleton, Highlands Ranch, and parts of Denver and Jefferson County. Over winter break, two junior girls who attended this school committed suicide. Both of them hung themselves.

After winter break, the school was devastated. Students asked questions of the entire faculty. They wanted to know why this happened and how they could have stopped it. There were no easy answers.

Later in the School year, around mid-April, two more girls attempted suicide. These two were not successful, but their actions irritated the wounds first caused by the suicides over winter break.

And now, five months later, there are still no easy answers.

An interesting statistic was given to us at school recently. The Highlands Ranch area, south of Denver, has the highest depression rate in the country. It’s weird isn’t it? I mean, our area seems like such a happy, thriving, perfect community. People aren’t supposed to have problems. Kids aren’t supposed to kill themselves. But the fact is, underneath that façade of happiness and perfection, there are broken people, just like you and me.

So what’s the answer? Why does this happen? How can we prevent it? When your life seems stuck in winter, how do you hold on for spring?

The band Mercy Me has a very poignant song, “Hold Fast.” The opening lines are “To everyone who’s hurting/ to those who’ve had enough/ to all the undeserving/ that should cover all of us/ please do not let go/ I promise you there’s hope.”


While there may not be an answer, there is hope. Psalm 121 tells us that “The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

This week, if you or someone you know feels like life is out of control, take a minute to read those words from Psalm 121. Remember that God that will always be there for you when you need him; there’s hope in the promise of the cross; and there is nothing you can do that will make God love you less.

Dear God. We come to you from a broken world and a bent reality. We don’t understand many of the things that go on around us God. We don’t understand car bombings in New York City or oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico or suicides in Highlands Ranch. We pray for you comfort and guidance Lord. Be with those who mourn the loss of loved ones and comfort those who are hurting. Watch over us this week and keep each of us safe and sound, happy and healthy. In your name we pray. Amen.

Zach Herzog

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Carole Schumacher wrote:
You are such a gifted writer and you did a great job with this. Thanks for sharing. You Rock!

Thu, May 6, 2010 @ 6:54 PM

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