Recently, a friend of mine told this story. A potato had been sitting around too long in her kitchen and had begun to sprout. Since it no longer seemed good to eat, she decided to cut it into chunks which she then buried in the garden.
Soon, she had several green shoots pushing through the soil. The greenery flourished for a while, then withered away. And eventually, she forgot that anything had ever been planted there.
No doubt you’ve already guessed the end of the story. Some time later, she was digging in the garden, and to her surprise and delight, came upon buried treasure: a handful of small but whole new potatoes.
When she told that story, I laughed and said that I would have to use it as a sermon illustration or a blog post someday.
So here we are. Girl, this spud’s for you.
The story reminds me of the nature of hope. We plant our prayers and wait for newness to spring forth. And perhaps for a time, it does. But even that which seems green and full of life may shrivel and die.
Why? Because the miracle of life and growth is happening underground instead, hidden in the depths where no one can see. It takes time, a season of darkness. But then, if we dig by intention or accident, we may discover the treasure that was growing there all along.
Faith, we are told, is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1, NRSV). By faith we pray, we hope, we put one foot in front of the other. And in so doing, we trust that God is always at work, turning death to life, brokenness to wholeness.
We may not see it. But sometimes, that just how it works.