As long as a root remains, there is hope.
I recently wrote about the spring frost that hit my garden. I had two tomato plants in a “tomato tunnel” that was not designed to protect them from frost. The stems of those two plants above ground were frozen and destroyed. I left the “dead” plants in the ground in the tunnel because I decided to grow new seedlings at home to replace them. Why dig them up now?
This week, I opened the tomato tunnel and discovered that the plants were growing! The frost killed the stems above ground, but did not freeze the roots. I had covered the ground heavily with mulch when I planted the tomatoes. Apparently that had been enough to save the roots from freezing and death.
Healing and new life came out of the roots!
Similar imagery actually appears in the Old Testament. The prophet Malachi foretold the Great Day of the Lord, when He comes for judgment. Malachi contrasts the outcome of this day of judgment for the wicked and the good in chapter 4.
On the one hand, evildoers will be consumed as by fire, leaving them with neither root nor branch:
“For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.”1
On the other hand, on the Great Day of the Lord the “sun of righteousness shall rise” — i.e. Jesus — and for those who fear the Name of the Lord, they shall receive healing and deliverance from bondage:
“But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall.”2
We see the same imagery that appears in Malachi also appears throughout the New Testament. “Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.”3 “I am the vine, you are the branches.”4 The Word of God is the seed that is sown; the success of the seed will depend on what kind of soil we are; those whose soil is rocky and seed fails to develop roots will be swept away by the devil.5
Those of us who are baptized have the seed of life in us. We have been planted by the Father. We have been grafted onto the vine that is Jesus. The living water of the Holy Spirit develops our root structure in prayer. We cultivate the soil of our soul with the practice of the virtues and good works for the love of God and neighbor.
Every day is an opportunity to grow closer to God—to develop deeper spiritual roots. But our time on earth is short. It is therefore imperative that we use our time wisely.
“In that coming day the wicked will have no hope of shooting up again to life. As long as a root remains there is hope, but hope is gone for these because the judgment of eternity is final.”
(Commenting on Malachi ch. 4.)6
My prayer for you today in the Name of Jesus is that you would nurture the root of life within you with prayer and devotion to the Word of God. Even if the hard frost of sin appears to have killed off your growth above ground, trust that the roots are alive under the mulch. Repent and turn back to God! It is God’s desire that you be saved and come to knowledge of the truth.7
May Our Lord Jesus, the sun of righteousness, warm the ground of your soil and encourage growth! May the living water of the Holy Spirit nourish your roots and stimulate new life! As long as a root remains, there is hope!
Eric A. Welter is an employment lawyer and trial attorney with a long-time devotion to intercessory prayer. He is a Catholic Christian who has been involved with intercessory and healing prayer ministry for over twenty years. The Abound in Hope Ministry website is https://www.aboundinhope.org/ministry.
Abound in Hope is a free publication. To receive new posts, consider becoming a free subscriber. Paid subscriptions are donations to the work of Abound in Hope Ministry.