Planting Joy

Nov 11, 2023

My husband and I lived for a brief time in the Netherlands. It was glorious, or as the Dutch say, “Lekker lekker!!” (deliciously good!) Though just for a few months, it was long enough to fall in love forever with one of the country’s most recognizable icons: tulips.

Unlike other crops, tulips are grown simply for the sheer joy of them. They are cultivated commercially in massive fields for two reasons: (1) people just love tulips; and (2) they want the bulbs for growing more tulips next year.

But you say, “Tulips are spring flowers; why are we talking about them now?” Right. Flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils blossom in the spring, but they must be planted in the fall or early winter, before the ground freezes. They need a long period of cool dormancy to spark the biochemical process that causes them to develop strong roots and burst forth in glorious bloom in the spring. If you’re lazy in autumn—you’ll be barren in the spring.

So you grab your sweater and gloves. You dig a deep hole and place the bulb in the bottom of it. Then you bury it with dirt and douse it with water.

Then … nothing.

You wait. And wait. Through fall. Winter. Long months of forgetting completely what lays sleeping in the dark soil. Until one warm spring morning, the bulb awakens and life appears. First just a shoot—then a shaft—and then a bloom. From its long winter’s nap, what was planted in HOPE, awakens in … JOY!

Here’s the thing—there’s no tulips blooming in the spring unless you plant them in the fall. When the wind whips cold, and all around you seems to be dead or dying, that’s the time to think ahead. “To everything there is a season” … yes, and joy WILL bloom again, but only if you prepare and plant in hope NOW.

It’s autumn. Your heart is wounded, and all the joy of life that once existed is now plucked up by the roots … and dead. Yes, this is just a season, and seasons do not last forever. The fall and winter will pass, and the air will turn balmy and warm again, causing your heart to smile. But it’s a fact—the sun will shine on barren soil THEN if you don’t plant NOW.

“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart …” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 AMP)

It may be too soon to claim victory over your grief. You may not be ready yet to dance and shout. The test results are grim. Your summer is over, and it’s not coming back. It’s dark and cold, and your best suspicions tell you it’s going to get worse before it gets better. All you can do is cry. “Weeping endures for a night …”

You may think this isn’t the best time for anything good. But take heart! This is the absolutely PERFECT time for planting HOPE. Think HOPE! Speak HOPE! Grab your Bible and dig into the WORD! Memorize Scripture and plant it in your heart … NOW! Looking at the calendar in the fall, farmers may deem it too early to plant corn or wheat. Snow is coming and the ground’s going to freeze soon. But when all is dark, and getting darker … THAT is the PERFECT time to plant tulips.

Words of trust and faith are like bulbs planted in the dark soil of suffering. Our tears are not wasted as they water our hope while we wait for the spring of deliverance. Suffering is never for nothing. It’s as ugly as a tulip bulb. But packed inside that ugliness is something unique and beautiful that will only manifest itself after being buried long in deep sorrow and watered with tears—tears mixed with HOPE. “God is good. It’s going to be all right. Everything is going to work out for GOOD just as God has planned it.”

Author River Jordan penned, “What patience this requires. A kind of stoic trust that the good work we do will find its season to arise—be it bulbs planted or words of hope spoken or acts of love sown. That in the depths of winter, new life is waiting to be born. That in the midst of pain, peace will prevail. And that in spite of everything—in the end—life finds a way to live and love again.”

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 KJV)

Its a PROMISE. So, grab your gloves, and make the effort to pamper the future YOU. IF HOPE is planted today, JOY WILL bloom tomorrow. EXPECT JOY! The future YOU will thank you!