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I once learned an interesting lessons from a retired pastor who grew banana trees in his backyard. Bananas will grow in our hot and humid Southern Illinois summers. But the season isn't long enough for them to produce much fruit. Some people tried to overcome this by starting their banana trees in a greenhouse earlier in the spring. But, according to my pastor friend, banana leaves, in particular, have to be exposed to the wind as they are growing. If they grow in a quiet greenhouse, and are then put outside, those big beautiful leaves will be shredded by the first summer windstorm.

So too, we are exposed to troubles of all kinds as Christians just like anyone else. But God uses those troubles mixed with faith to strengthen us. Job said, "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold." (ESV Job 23.10).

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