He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. [Revelation 21:4 (ESV)]
After taking a photo of its lovely orange and yellow blossoms, I looked to see the tree’s name on the plaque beside it. Called the Sorrowless Tree, my first thought was, “Now that’s a tree every garden needs!” Officially called Saraca asoca and commonly called the Ashoka, this tree is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. In Hindu mythology, it is dedicated to Kama Deva, the God of Love, and Buddhists believe that Siddhartha the Buddha was born under an Ashoka tree.
For many Hindus, drinking water in which Ashoka flowers have been washed protects someone from grief. The water supplies the flower’s essence and is supposed to heal the suffering and sorrow caused by mourning, pain, burdens, trauma, disappointment, and loneliness. By drinking the flower’s essence, an inner state of profound peace and joy is attained. Many Buddhists believe that when a person stands beneath the Ashoka he will forget all of his worries and concerns.
I’m not a follower of homeopathy, aromatherapy, or Ayurveda medicine, but I found the way this flower’s essence is supposed to work interesting—it gently changes one’s perception of the sorrow. For the Buddhists, the tree may work its healing simply because people feel happy when they stand in the shelter of its beautiful blossoms. In both cases, while the circumstances don’t change, the attitude does.
As Christians, we know there is no protection from grief and a Sorrowless Tree won’t bring healing. Nevertheless, like people everywhere, we do need right thinking when life goes seriously awry! When we’re sad, troubled or in pain, on what do we concentrate? Do we focus on our grief, difficulties and suffering or on God? Do we lament, fret, or moan or do we concentrate on trusting our Heavenly Father? Do we calmly pray, “Thy will be done,” or is our prayer an anxious, “My will be done”? Do we let our negative thoughts control us or do we control those discouraging thoughts? Unless we are clinically depressed, we don’t have to think unhappy, complaining, or anxious thoughts. Remembering that we’re only as joyful, serene or confident as our thoughts, we can release every negative thought we have. Instead of telling God to change our circumstances, we can ask Him to show us how to view them in a new and better way.
We will never live a sorrowless life. In fact, suffering often accompanies discipleship and our sorrow is neither futile nor unnoticed by God. Instead of drinking a flower’s essence, however, we can drink the living water of the Spirit—the essence of our God. Rather than standing under a tree gazing at lovely flowers, we can take refuge in the arms of God while pondering His love and trusting in a better life to come.
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds, In a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, And drives away his fear. [John Newton]