A week ago, I stood in my grandma's garden with her as we uprooted vicious vines of smilax, weeded out miniature maple trees, and pruned back her star jasmine growing atop the gazebo. I forget exactly which plant she was examining when she spoke, nevertheless her words planted a seed in my mind.
“God gave them all different ways to survive, and still there are flowers," she said, fingering the small blossoms.
Working in the garden with my grandmother, I've seen her remark proved true numerous times. Plants are each created uniquely, and tiny details enable them to grow in tough circumstances. Smilax sports thorns that pierce leather gloves to protect itself, defying the attempts of well-intentioned gardeners (ahem, me) to remove it. As it continues to grow, the thorns dwindle into mere pricks and the vine adorns itself in glossy green leaves and curling tendrils. Likewise, the bushes of peonies in nearby fields die back every winter, retreating to their bulbs where they will send out feeder roots until the warmth of spring calls forth the first pink blossom.
In His grace, God gives plants small details that enable them to endure situations that might otherwise kill them. And when they survive—thrive, even—plants culminate their seasons of growth by showcasing beautiful blooms.
My point? You and I are created differently and will walk different paths in life, experiencing different struggles, and dealing with them in different ways.
For example, I am a perfectionist, and as such, I strive for the highest goal possible. Anything less than that standard seems like another strike against me, like a mark of failure. God, however, uses what I see as my failure to point to my need for Him—and His grace gives me the strength to move past mistakes and love Him more.
Esther, a young Jewish woman in exile in Babylon, was wedded to King Xerxes. Soon afterward, Mordecai unveiled a plot to murder her people, the Jews. Holding this tremendous weight on her shoulders, Esther turned to God in fasting and prayer. In the end, the Lord gave her the courage to approach the king and plead for him to save her people. God poured out His grace, softening Xerxes' heart so that the Jews would be spared. Despite our differences, God has created us to grow in Him and to survive in all seasons of life.
Paul writes in Ephesians 4 that “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned" in order to equip us to serve Him.
And more than that, Jesus, “who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6, The Bible, ESV). So, like full-petalled peonies that bloom every Mother's Day despite hail and blight, God will bring us to completion—perfection—by His grace.