How Strange!

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭

We were enjoying a lovely family hike in the river valley when I first noticed it.

There seemed to be a white powdery substance on the ground, rather reminiscent of a dusting of fine flour. It piqued my curiosity.

Next, I noticed that this white powder only seemed to be under the branches of a certain small shrubby tree.


A few metres further on, I spotted fluffy, feathery white material on branches above the powdery spots.

That was it.

I had to check this stuff out.

I used my handy dandy app that I use for identifying plants and fungi and such. It declared that I had found ‘wooly alder aphids’.

I promptly and disgustedly proclaimed that my app was stupid and didn’t work. The substance was not moving, and didn’t even remotely resemble an aphid.

By this time, my scientist daughter had stopped to see what I was gawking at. She inspected the patches of white fluff as well, intrigued.

What on earth was this weird white residue?

I told her what it definitely wasn’t.

Wooly alder aphids.

Although – the shrubs were alders. And the strange material was definitely wooly.

Scientist Daughter quickly looked up wooly alder aphids and fancy that.

They really were wooly aphids.

How bizarre.

She found out that the white stuff is a wax that the bugs produce to make themselves less attractive to eat. Being thus suitably clad, the little critters could spend their time sucking up plant juices rather than dodging would-be predators.

Who knew?

It was definitely a run-in with an oddity.

I mean, it was so strange that we stopped and stared and hemmed and hawed until we knew what it was that we were looking at.

About ten years ago, this was me in another context.

I had really hit a rough patch, and my first instinct was to stop on the trail so to speak and stare and hem and haw and wonder what in the world was going on.

See, my theology was off.

I had this silly idea that when you serve God and seek to obey Him, that life should be one grand family hike in the forest with perfect weather and loads of lovely blessings around every corner.


What a notion.

Not sure how I missed it, but Peter lays it all out so logically here in his first epistle – his argument is that if Jesus suffered (and that He did!) then we should expect no different.

The way Peter puts it, wooly aphids (I mean, hard times) are not a strange thing to gawk at along the trail, but normal and to be expected. So expected, in fact, that we are to be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared to face challenges, trials, and opposition.

‘Don’t be surprised…’


I wasn’t prepared.

Not one little bit.

It hit me like a freight train. And one major point in my recovery was the inner switch to a more realistic view of how life in a fallen state works. Going through rough patches was a lot less like finding a curiosity in the forest than I had fooled myself into believing.

It was the norm.

Are you finding the tough parts of your journey to be strange? Or are you rooted in the reality that even Jesus found life here a challenge?

Oh, there are lovely bits too. There are blessings in unexpected places, and waterfalls, and spots that take your breath away – in a good way.

But there are also patches where it’s all uphill and the terrain is terrifying and it’s dark and the ground is unstable and you’re trying to limp through injured and –

Let me just remind you that in those places where you are scared and frustrated and hurting, you can reach out for the hand of the One who understands completely what that feels like.

And that – that makes all the difference.

Shift closer to an accurate and honest view of the hardships in life with me?

Father, we are not supposed to be surprised or think it is strange when troubles come to us – and yet, we often are. We ask “Why me?” and forget that Your Son also endured abandonment, betrayal, and abuse. Teach us how to prepare for trouble, and how to withstand times of hardship by leaning on You for strength. Amen.

Published by melodylowes

I am actually a bit of a mess. But in the mess, I’m finding security in knowing I am chosen, I am forgiven, and I matter. After uncovering a history of abuse in my past, I have done a lot of healing - and writing is one way I can invite you deeper into your own healing journey! I write devotionals about the complicated thing called life at, and my poetry is stashed at Pull up a chair and a coffee or tea and let's grow together!

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