The Withered Flower

[NOTES before reading: this story was a written assignment I had to do for school, and I decided to post it here. If you plan to read this, I suggest that you set aside 10-20 mins. This story is best read from start to finish, instead of in fragmented bits. You can get much more out of a story emotionally if you are in their world,  and in my opinion, the way to do this is to stay in that world until the end. This is my first story ever so it might be a bit rusty. But nonetheless, enjoy!]


The crisp breeze in the meadow swayed various plants to and fro. The glistening sun against the wild orchards sent off a golden haze. A beautiful sight these two. One could look up at the flowers and see rays of marvelous light bounce across the earth. Surrounded by a thicket of dense woods, the landscape was defined. Sweet and enchanting. Mysterious but wonderful.  Except for a few groves of plants and the field, nothing lay there but one seemingly ancient house.  Not ancient, but it appeared so. The tarnished brick, with its pine green shutters, gave the small building a rustic feel.  It wasn’t the most appealing residence, yet it furnished the country side with life. This was not due to the sun’s cordiality with the earth, nor nature’s kindly presence (both of which attract visitors) but something alive, something joyous. There was a bond. A force. A force expressed that any person could tell was deep and prospering. A force unbreakable. So intertwined was its influence with the setting that some think it to be divine. It was a force that made the face of lilies shine brighter. It was a force to be felt, a mystery to behold. It was a bond. This was the honest, sincere, bond of love between three people. If there was anything God looked down upon with a cheerful eye, it was this.  The unity of the family. A perfect design for friendship, struggle, hardship and love.  It was all possessed in that small brick house and but caused the flowers to bloom, the birds to chirp songs of glee, and the rivers to flow with joy; it seemed everything in nature flowered in response to this wonder.

This was the world of a girl. A smart, kind, happy person she was. Almost childish it seemed, but not completely. For even though fifteen years of age doesn’t make her the most mature of people, she was a recipient of love. It cannot be overstated that the affection received over the course of her young life blossomed into the roots of child-like joy, impeccable happiness, a kind spirit, and yet at the same time a mind for the profound things of the world. The desire to learn and live narrated her day. She wasn’t interested in urban pleasures, for to her they were a waste of time, but she delighted in nature. It was in the quite places of life she found the ability to contemplate. It was there she studied the colors of a sun set, the sound of birds, the swish of the river, the clicking of the insects. There she read from the learned men of old. Her passion for discovery prompted many to think her queer, but this never lasted long. For her serious demeanor always vanished into cheerful smile. Though some sensed mystery, her charm wiped any strange thoughts into bursts of joy. There is something about the young when men get old that delights them. It’s their bliss, their ignorance, which bring those warm feelings of childlike wonder. In her was just that. In her, there was a love that had been so fervently bestowed, and now was shown forth like a marvelous light.

Her parents were dedicated. Not the type of dedication that worries frequently concerning the enjoyment of the child, but a type of dedication that considers all their needs. They understood their child’s necessities, and met them appropriately. When she erred, they corrected, when she rebelled, they rebuked, when she cried, they felt with her, when she danced, they rejoiced, and all this was done with a thankful heart. The girl was educated with the essentials of mathematics, sciences, language, grammar, literature, and the like. Scarcely would there be a day where she was not learning some art or studying the intricacies of nature. It wasn’t done vigorously either, and it wasn’t cruel as most children would expect. It wasn’t brought upon her with the motives of meeting some boring necessity. It was done for one reason – all of it was done for one reason – a reason that compels many to serve, live, and die; a reason that many seek to find, but only those who know where to look will find. The girl’s parents, with all of their aspirations and dreams, sacrificed and poured out their lives in dedication, for one simple reason. That reason was love. Love can be beautiful. It’s like the pinkish, orange horizon during the sunset – vast and wondrous – that once even scarcely grasped can shake you into a fit of marvel and amazement. If there are to be colors there must first be a sun to set.  If there is to be an evening, there must first be a source for that evening. Likewise, if there is to be love, there must be a fountain for that love.  Either it’s a splendor that has an everlasting source or it’s but the passing of the wind, a thing that swirls by, enchants us, and then disappears. Love must last forever. Her parents understood this, but she never did. So it came upon them one day when they were taking a walk through the woods, that she innocently asked,

“Why do you love me?”

They tenderly responded with all sincerity,

“Because God loves us, we love you. It’s because He loved us first, that we can always have the love there is for you.”

It hit her like a wave. Never before had she realized just how selfless their love had been. It made her appreciate all that’s been given to her, and most of all, it made her feel loved.

This was the girl’s life. She had everything a young person could desire: loving parents, a house to live, and the expanse of nature to roam. Her life was joyous and pleasant. She loved it dearly, she loved the creation dearly – she loved her parents dearly.

But the time comes when all have to grimly face reality. It happens that the world takes its toll and wipes away all the things one holds dear. Her parents told her about this,

“You know sweetheart, there’ll be a time when we’re not here anymore, when we can’t help you with your struggles, but it’s in those times that you must trust in Him.”

As a confused child is, she looked at them in disbelief,

“You’re going to go?”

“Someday.”

She very well understood that they were talking about death. To her, death was only some sinister event in the books, it was never a reality. She could never firmly grasp that picture, but nonetheless, thoughts of parting only caused her to cherish the moments with her parents all the more.

Yet the time was near.

It was Fall. The leaves were turning from bright green to the autumn colors of brown, orange, and red. It was a pastime to frolic to and fro under a tree, while attempting to catch the leaves being swirled about by the wind. The wind made the game harder, but twice as exciting.

After catching several dozens of leaves, she sat down against the tree exhausted. While catching her breath everything seemed silent. The canopy was blocking the sunlight; the chirping birds were absent; there were no gleeful squirrels chasing each other through the woods. In fact, everything felt dull. The daylight usually ignited everything to life, everything was always active, but now all that could be heard was the rustle of wind, coldly blowing over the forest. She felt the change, and it made her worry. Five days ago her parents had left on a trip. They promised her they’d be back in three days, yet, day six was approaching.

“Maybe they’re just late” She reasoned with herself.

But there was still that growing feeling of uneasiness and apprehension. So she left the place besides the tree and made for home.

Walking back might have seemed easy, but it was not for her. With every step one more ounce of worry beset her heart. As she passed out of the thicket the winds grew stronger. As the house came into the view, the leaves whirled and flew madly. The sky became dark. The clouds threatened the earth with a storm. A simple walk became a jog; a jog became a run. No longer could she stand it! She had to know! The atmosphere of her heart rose, thunder hit the trees. She arrived, the entrance in front, she opened to move the door, and suddenly, it all stopped.

As the door released a creak echoed throughout the house. Her heart was silent as she listened. Silence. There was nothing else. No people, not even the ticking of a clock; only the faint sound of an autumn wind and the vacancy of the room.

She sat down against the wall in confusion. Why were they not here? Never before had she ever edged towards the gulf of despair, but now she was getting close. Her parents had always kept their word; they would never tease her in being absent. She assured herself,

“It’s not like them. They’ll come.”

But at the same time there was that nagging doubt. Had something happened? She dearly missed them, and quickly excused any thoughts of worry, but still, there was that uncertainty. She decided it would be best to clear her mind, so outside she went.

The forestry lay in view, still dull, still quiet. Nothing seemed very exciting, nothing seemed very colorful; everything was grey, fuzzy, and unclear. Her mind was still grasping to the hope that they would return. Every second seemed like a minute, every waiting minute seemed like an hour. There she sat, dreaming of the time they would come.

The girl jumped! From the small gravel road, a buggy slowly pulled up. Ecstatic, she ran. Nothing could stop her from meeting them. They were back! Now the birds would now start chirping, now the sun would break through! Now she could stop worrying and all would be set right. This brought a smile to her face. So she ran, and ran she did!

The horses came closer in view, a man jumped off.

Suddenly her hope failed.

The man was not her father, and her mother was nowhere to be seen. There was just a stranger. The stranger walked over to the shabby red mailbox beside the road, took out a letter, and dropped it into the box.

Though her hopes were dashed, she was still optimistic.

“Maybe they sent me a letter.”

She proceeded over to the mailbox. They hardly received any mail, so the box looked as if it would fall apart. But this was of no concern, what was in the letter?

The box was opened; the letter was removed. Quickly she broke the seal. What could it be? All the anxiety, loneliness, and waiting had led to this, it read:

Dear Miss,

We are sorry to inform you, but your parents are dead. There was an accident and they were underneath a bridge—

Dead? No… no, not dead!”

She started sobbing.

No longer could she read for right there her heart broke. Somehow she had expected this to happen, yet had nonetheless clung to hope.

That hope had now been shattered.

All the joy, all the love, all the blessings of life had suddenly vanished before her eyes. Slowly she sunk over the edge of despair. She was like a flower, which used to be blooming and beautiful – always filling the earth with a song and giving the scenery life.

But flowers don’t stay like this forever. There comes a time when flourishing is not possible, the plant starts to wither, the root decays. When the daisy that was once shining splendidly loses its splendor. When the flower is no longer upright, positive and happy, but twisted, hopeless, and depressed. This was her state.

She cried out in agony.

Her parents had been so intertwined in her heart that they were a part of her. They were her world. They had brought hope, meaning, love, comfort, and security. Now they were gone. Now everything was miserable.

So she just knelt there, head against the mailbox, crying; crying over her loss, crying over all the memories, crying out to God.

“Why?”

She recalled what her parents had said about leaving. It was easy to realize in the head what they were talking about, but now it was a totally different thing.  Now it wasn’t so much of a distant story, it was real. She had experienced its pain.

Memories started to flood back into her mind; memories of their love and affection and all the beautiful things that were gone. She recalled their words. They had talked about suffering. They knew she would suffer. That’s why they said,

“It’s in those times that you must trust in Him”

But she questioned Him, as any person would.

“Trust in God? How can I? Didn’t He allow this to happen? Didn’t He let them die!”

And so she declared,

“I cannot trust in God.”

She avowed this confused, but angry nonetheless.

She was broken.

If you know what it feels like to be broken, you’d understand why she acted this way. Brokenness is more than just a feeling; it’s a state of being. It’s when a sword filled with despair pierces your heart and causes all the happy things to feel but distant.  It makes you anguished, bitter, resentful, and yet at the same time incapable of doing anything. It seats you in a spot of loneliness and insecurity. It can only be healed through a miracle.

She needed a miracle.

Hours passed by while next to that old mailbox, until finally she brought herself back to the house. Night had come, both to the night sky and the gloomy places of her mind.

There in bed, it was hard to comprehend it all. It was almost like a dream, a dream that makes you cry and feel pain, but is never actually real. Maybe if she fell asleep it would all go away. Maybe there would be no more suffering…maybe her parents would return, and all would be right, maybe…

She fell asleep.

The next morning, it was still real.

Feelings of desolation could not be avoided; her parents were gone! Her life was dramatically different, and why not? The two people who had been love, encouragement, hope, joy, and everything else she could possible dream of had now disappeared. They were the most important, cherished gift of her life. Losing them set the stage to a lifetime of sorrow.

So the girl rose from her bed, feeling the weight of despair on her shoulders, ready to cry and embrace her self-pity once more. But as she got up, something caught her eye.

It was the family Bible. A small, red velvet book, that sat there now on the desk next to her bed. She reached over and felt its leather binding. Years of memories laid there. She could just remember those winter nights where they would sit on the sofa, reading the scripture and enjoying the warm presence of the fireplace. Together they would converse on the most intricate, unimportant details no one usually ever cares to discuss. Yet they enjoyed it.  It was during these times where their prayers would rise for the needy, the unwanted, and the lost. Here she developed a heart for the poor. Other nights would be a time for discussion on deeper topics.

But then she recalled their conversations on God’s love and His providence over their lives. Conversations that had once comforted and helped her fall asleep, conversations that had made the world joyous and alive. Their words came to her mind,

“God is love. He will always love and take care of you no matter the circumstance.”

Suddenly all the sweet memories swept away. She couldn’t believe those words. Constantly her parents had provided and met her needs; they had cared for her. Now they were gone. She became infuriated with such thoughts.

“How is letting my parents die taking care of me?”

She yelled desperately,

“You have no love for me!”

So in bitter defiance, in rage, in resentment for the God who she had been taught to love, she seized the Bible and threw it across the room.

It had been done. Her rebellion against the Creator of the cosmos exposed. No longer could she hide it. Her actions only illustrated the ruined condition of her heart. It wasn’t the act itself that was evil, it was her slandering of God.

God could have looked upon that broken child in wrath, He could have made her life even more miserable, He could have punished her for rebellion. But He didn’t. He saw that withered little flower and had compassion. He saw her weep; He knew her pain. It wasn’t out of unfaithfulness that He let this happen. It was all part of His plan.

The girl considered the Bible on the floor. It was hard to comprehend what had just happened. There was no regret, the same animosity was still there. But even so, throwing that book felt as if she threw out a piece of her past along with it.

The Bible was lying face down on the floor, now being bent between two pages. Something about it was calling her. As if some mystical force were compelling her.  Almost against her will, she picked up the book. Placing her fingers in-between the pages, she brought it within sight. The book had landed in Job.

She paused.

If anything reminded her of suffering, it was this book.

She recalled the story.  A man by the name of Job lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless and upright, feared God, and turned from evil. His riches were abundant. He had hundreds of sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys. He was declared to be one of the greatest men in the land. But it happened one day that Satan approached God with a request. A request to test his faith. God allowed. Satan then proceeded by taking away Job’s property, slaying his servants, and causing a wind to blow which led to the death of his many sons and daughters. He lost everything. If this wasn’t enough, God permitted the devil to inflict him with sickness. Now his misery was so grave that even his wife counselled him to curse God and die. Job refused to curse God, but instead cursed the day of his birth. He never denounced God, but he certainly questioned Him.

“Why did God allow Job to suffer?”

This question was pressed against her mind. But it occurred to her,

Am I like Job?”

After Job had experienced this grief, his friends came to counsel him. Instead of comforting the man, they reasoned with his pain. It was because of Job’s iniquity, had God allowed him to suffer. Yet Job refuted this, saying he had done no wrong. This was so.

“What did I do wrong?”

It was impossible to grip why her parents died. It was impossible for Job to understand why God took away his life. Why did it happen? Job had always served the Lord. She had never committed any grave sins or rebelled against the Creator. Maybe she was like Job.

All she could do was stare and wonder. Her eyes had just seen the name “Job” and “God” when everything set off.

She lost herself in a realm of mystery. A land so utterly dark that not even a shadow can be seen. It’s a horrible place yet it’s a spectacular beauty. For the arrogant a place of disgust but for the humble a bewitching sight. Here a girl stood at its gates: searching.

It wasn’t for at least fifteen minutes until she awoke. Suddenly it dawned on her,

“Did Job get any answers?”

If Job received answers then she did. If he was satisfied than she would be, after all, he had lost everything, she lost everything. If any answer satisfied the man who feared God, then that answer would be sufficient for her. If he found an answer to his suffering, then she did.

So she looked into the book. There her eyes met the only man who would answer Job. It was a young man named Elihu. She read his words,

Job has said, ‘I am righteous,
But God has taken away my justice;
Should I lie concerning my right?
My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.

Her indignation felt right,

“God has indeed taken away what was right and left me with a wound incurable… I am not wrong.”

He has said, ‘It profits a man nothing
That he should delight in God.’

By now she certainly felt like Job. He once delighted in the things of God, his days were once of bliss. But God took it all, and now how very far away the delight of God seemed! Was her anger not justified? Every fiber of her being yelled for them to be back, but that would never happen again. How could the Maker be anything but unjust?

Once again, she was about to throw the Bible in an even greater fit of rage, but something compelled her not too. She kept reading,

Therefore, listen to me, you men of understanding:
Far be it from God to do wickedness,
And from the Almighty to commit iniquity.

It seemed to be addressing her.

Surely God will never do wickedly
Nor will the Almighty pervert justice.
 Who gave Him charge over the earth?

Suddenly the anger was cut short. The emotion ceased. The world stood still.  Everything was now focused upon the text.

Elihu was done, but it wasn’t over. The Almighty appeared to Job in a whirlwind. It was a powerful, threatening, display of might.  His words crippled Job to utter silence.

Who is this who darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.

If she wasn’t confused already, now she was. It was as if God Himself were addressing her. The words piercing her heart.

She prepared herself. This was the time. This was the time where God would have to face her.

So fiercely in one final attempt of defiance against the Creator, she stormed from the house and confronted the heavens.

“Here I am!”

A gust of wind shot through her hair, the earth trembled; everything felt still, the world was tense: a man appeared.

And so the questioning began, His deep voice sounded,

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?

Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.

Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
that a flood of waters may cover you?
Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
Who has put wisdom in the inward parts
or given understanding to the mind?
Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,

Would you indeed annul My judgment?
Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?
Have you an arm like God?
Or can you thunder with a voice like His?

If she wasn’t broken already, this broke her more. How powerless she was to answer! The sea of her rage had deluded her into thinking herself a contender to God. But she was wrong. The pride of her rebellion had ended.  No response could come from her lips.

But she couldn’t let go! How could she humble herself before the God who let injustice be done? The trees were still torn, the wind was still harsh, and her soul was still tormented! Could she still hold onto this resentment? Desperately, she tried.

The man bent down and reaches for the book. He opened it back to Job. Looking into her eyes, she knew: Job was to declare the verdict. She read Job’s response,

“I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
 Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.”

In defeat, she fell to her knees. It was too much. Only accusations, only wrath, could motivate her to reject this God. Very well did she know that this was no longer permissible. Job had submitted to God because he realized something, God is great. He realized that he could not reject His majesty due to a lack of knowledge. As a finite creature wisdom he lacked. The extravagance of the world, all its beauty, all its treasures, he was but utterly ignorant to understand. No right did He have in instructing the Maker in what to do. That would be but shear arrogance. So he sat, completely void of any answers in the face of his Maker. Powerless.

Here she sat, void of any answers before the Maker. Powerless. The greatness of God was too great.

So the girl cried. There before all of nature to see, she cried. It wasn’t a lonely, miserable cry, one that would make you feel sympathy; but this was a cry of remorse, it was a true cry of repentance.

“Sorry” were the words that came out of her weeping heart.

The sovereignty of God was there, like a mystery, something to hold onto in the worst moments of life. Could she trust Him? Could she trust His plan for her life? Would entrusting her soul into the loving care of the Creator be too high a risk to take? Was there meaning in it all? What was the point?

She still pondered over the question,

“Why did you let my parents die?”

To this, she knew an answer may never come. But this was ok. No longer were there doubts, doubts telling her that God is a cruel, unjust Lord, because now she realized,

God would never commit iniquity. God would never do wickedly. God would never pervert justice. God is in control. God has a plan.

And though she may never know the mind of God, she could trust him because like all His mighty works, His plan is great.

So it was that day she let go of all the brokenness, all the tears, all the pain, all the anger, all the resentment, everything- and placed them in the loving hands of her Father.

God had worked.

It was a Miracle.