Fruit in the Ashes
It turns out that grapes love volcanoes—specifically the ash that volcanoes emit. Vineyard farmers in Spain’s Canary Islands have discovered and capitalized on this strange situation. Eighty miles from the sandy beaches of Lanzarote lies a charcoal landscape formed by volcanic eruptions from the 1730’s. There are enough craters and jagged hills on the island to make you think you’re on the Moon. The only difference is that this Spanish terrain is engulfed in black ash, and there are undeniable signs of life—namely, hundreds of farmers picking over 2.6 million pounds of grapes annually.
How do grapes grow in such a sooty wasteland? According to Mónica R. Goya, a New York Times journalist who visited the island, the magic is in the dirt. The ash prevents erosion, retains moisture, and regulates ground temperature. It also has nourishing soil beneath it, and there are plenty of old cinders to make pits for the grapevines to protect them from violent winds. Incredibly, fruit can grow even in the ashes.
The Bible declares the same truth. The apostle James once wrote that the fruit of endurance grows best in the ashes of trials and tribulations:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness [or endurance]. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Christian, do you feel like your life is in ashes? Perhaps the news of an unexpected diagnosis has left you feeling like your life is a dark and crumbling wasteland. Maybe the abrupt passing of a loved one has made you feel like a volcano of pain and grief erupted upon your once-joyful life. It may be that loneliness has buried your happiness and cheer, like ash concealing thousands of acres that used to be beautiful. You may feel like Job when he cried, “God has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes” (Job 30:19).
Whatever volcanic trial has erupted in your life, the Lord promises that tribulation is the best soil for endurance. Sometimes He permits a volcano to rupture to plant you in the ideal place to trust Him and His plan for your life. God uses adversity to deepen your faith and strengthen your spiritual muscles. To be sure, troubles and trials aren’t pretty—they are painful. But God is cultivating the beautiful fruit of endurance in the midst of your afflictions, and that is reason to rejoice. As Paul stated, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Romans 5:3).
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).