I remember playing beneath my grandmother’s weeping willow as a child. The tree’s slender branches, swaying fancifully in the wind, beckoned to me. Under their awning, I found relief from the Texas heat and a space to call my own.
That was twenty-something years ago, but I can still recall how it felt to pass through the curtain of fluid branches and into the refuge of the willow.
To my adult mind, weeping willow is a contradiction in terms. Though they appear to shed rainwater like tears, willow species have tenacious roots that actively seek out a water source. Despite having fragile limbs, these trees are among the first to produce leaves in spring and the last to drop leaves in the fall. Although they are prone to breakage, willow branches grow quickly and are known for their ability to regenerate. Weeping willows have a relatively short lifespan (perhaps only 20 or 30 years), however they are capable of cloning themselves. Separated branches can easily take root and sprout new willows—even if planted upside down.
This tree is a paradox. Its graceful form can house the laughter of a child romping in the yard or preside over the sorrow of the mourner who lingers in the stillness of a cemetery. Its limbs are hopeful as well as humble, reaching high before bending low. They do weep. Yet, they also rejoice.
Like the weeping willow, the Christian faith is full of paradox:
- Jesus, our conquering King came to us as a helpless infant.
- We are called to “rejoice in the Lord always” even as we “weep with those who weep”.
- If we want to live, we must first die with Christ.
These defy logic, as faith often does.
God is love, and in His sovereignty, He allows suffering—even using it to draw us closer to His heart. In my experience, both blessing and suffering can become magnets in the hand of God, pulling us closer to Himself. So often, it is not either or but both and.
I can relate to the weeping willow tree. My life is a paradox too. I laugh, though I grieve. I hope, though there are days that I must will myself to get up and take a step. I feel brittle, as if I may break at any moment. And yet, vigorously I seek out the Living Water I so desperately need.
And the weeping willow reminds me of my sweet Olivia. Full of grace while requiring tender care. The picture of humble strength. Fragile, yet so resilient. Her life on Earth was shorter than anyone wanted, longer than doctors predicted, and more fruitful than we may ever fully realize.
After she died, we prayed that God would continue to use Olivia’s life and legacy for His glory. For those who belong to Jesus, death is merely a door to resurrection life. So too, this pattern is reflected on Earth. Dying plants drop seeds that produce new seedlings.
God planted many seeds through Olivia, whether in life or in death. By faith, I see new life springing up—a weeping willow with strong roots, growing in fertile ground. Thriving, reproducing, and providing shade to the weary. The scripture God gave me while pregnant with Olivia comes to mind:
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”—Jeremiah 17:7-8
Our family is still grieving, and maybe that never goes away completely. The path we are walking is not one we envisioned or would have chosen, yet we sense that God wants to take what is barren and make it fruitful. He is calling us to be like the willow tree—to bear fruit even as we weep.
So many of you reading this have prayed and supported our family faithfully. We are so grateful, and we ask for your continued prayers as we feel God asking us to step out in faith in a new way.
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