Day 1 in the Holy Land – What I Learned from the Olive Tree

No one wants to have their heart crushed. But being wounded in deep places happens. Sometimes it just seems to be a part of the rhythm of life.

And when these hard times come, we feel it all so very deeply. And we wonder if others have these hard, hard moments. After all, we don’t snap pictures of the crushing times and post them on Instagram.

We just wonder if we have what it takes to survive…

…when the doctor calls and says he needs to talk to me in person about the test results.

…when the teacher sends one of “those” emails about my child that evokes tall shadows of fear.

…when something someone shares online feels as if a dagger was driven deep inside me.

…when someone I love closes their heart and turns their back on me.

…when I feel so utterly incapable and unable and afraid.

I suspect you know the tear-filled place from which I speak.

So, let’s journey first to the olive tree and learn.

To get to the place I want to take you we must cross the Kidron Valley. I’ll post more about this place later but here’s a picture:

Experience the Holy Land without having to leave home!

John 18: 1-2, “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.”

Jesus often met in the shadow and shade of the olive tree.

The olive grove mentioned above is the Garden of Gethsemane. In this garden is where Jesus, just before his arrest said to Peter, James and John, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” (Mark 14:34).

Jesus knew the crushing heart feeling. He felt it. He wrestled with it. He carried it.

And I don’t think it was a coincidence the olive tree was there in this moment of deep sorrow for Jesus.

Experience the Holy Land without having to leave home!

The olive tree is such a picture of why our hearts must go through the crushing times.

First, in order to be fruitful it has to have both the east wind and the west wind. The east wind is the dry hot wind from the desert. This is a harsh wind. So harsh that it can blow over green grass and make it completely wither in one day. (The east wind is also the one that blew over Job’s house.)

The west wind, on the other hand, comes from the Mediterranean. It brings rain and life.

The olive tree needs both of these winds to produce fruit… and so do we. We need both the winds of hardship and winds of relief to sweep across our life if we are to truly be fruitful.

Experience the Holy Land without having to leave home!

Another thing to consider about the olive tree is how naturally bitter the olive is and what it must go through to be useful. In October if you were to pick an olive from the tree and try to eat it, its bitterness would make you sick.

For the olive to be eatable, it has to go through a lengthy process which includes…
sometimes salting,
and waiting some more.

It is a lengthy process to be cured of bitterness.

If we are to escape the natural bitterness of the human heart, we have to go through a long process as well… the process of being cured.

Experience the Holy Land without having to leave home!

The final thing I want to consider about the olive is not just how bitter it is, but also how strong and hard it is when picked straight from the tree. If you are harvesting olives for oil, you must pray for a soaking rain to come if you hope to get oil from the olives. It needs a hard rain of at least 2-3 hours so the water can make it all the way up the roots, through the tree, and to the olives.

Then the olives can be picked and preserved.

And the best way to preserve an olive for the long run? Crush it and extract the oil from it.

The same is true for us. The Biblical way to be preserved is to be pressed. And being pressed can certainly feel like being crushed.

But what about the verse in 2 Corinthians 4:8 NIV where it says, “we are pressed but not crushed”? Let’s read verses 8 and 9 in the King James version:

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;”

This was one of the biggest “aha” moments for me standing in the shadow of the olive tree: crushing isn’t the olive’s end.

Crushing is the way of preservation for the olive. It’s also the way to get what’s most valuable, the oil, out of the olive. Keeping this perspective is how we can be troubled on every side yet not distressed… pressed to the point of being crushed but not crushed and destroyed.

I think I need to revisit this truth often.

Experience the Holy Land without having to leave home!

But here’s the thing I must remember as I think back about my time with the olive tree:

When the sorrowful winds of the east blow, I forget they are necessary.

When I’m being processed, I forget it’s for the sake of ridding me of bitterness.

And when I’m being crushed I forget it’s for the sake of my preservation.

I forget all these things so easily. I wrestle and cry and honestly want to resist every bit of this. Oh, how I forget.

Maybe God knew we all would.

And so, He created the olive tree.

Oh Holy Spirit, speak to us in whatever way You need to. Whatever part of this is for us personally, may we see, receive, and be revived.


  1. Shauna says

    Thank you, Lysa, for your insight of the olive tree in comparison to a journey I am currently on as well as others. I love your posts and messages of faith, hope and love.
    God Bless

  2. Denise says

    Thanks Lysa for allowing God to use you for my life. Everything you speak on is exactly what I’m going through & you put it in such a way that I get it. God bless you! Thank you LORD JESUS 4 Lysa!

  3. Kelly says

    Thank you for the beautiful and thought provoking olive tree article. Please pray that I can keep bitterness at bay; been dealing with the same old stuff for 20 years. I am a Christian , that’s the only way I’ve managed!

  4. Debi says

    Although I’m not currently in the “olive press”, several of my sisters in the Lord are, and I’m so thankful to be able to share your excellent exhortation with them. It’s encouraging and offers hope. Thank you for drawing this message out of your experience in Israel, and for sharing it.

  5. Jane says

    Thanks Lysa. I value this. I’m ashamed of how I hate trials and always long for relief and comfort. I am a very stubborn learner and have been in a hard place for a long time. I pray to have my eyes open to the lessons I need to learn.

  6. Paula says

    Thanks Lysa. I needed this. I’m having a difficult time in my marriage. Feeling hurt and alone and in return hurting my husband because I’m lacking patience. Lacking the wisdom needed to hold my tongue. This week I’ve heard 2 good messages. I’ll be applying both to my life to bring the good fruits and overcome as a conqueror through Him!

    • Martha Nelson says

      In response to the lady having issues with her husband, I have
      been married for almost 33 years and it has only been in the
      last few years that I really took to heart the fact that the Holy
      Spirit has been trying to get through to me – fixing my husband is
      NOT MY JOB. Once I humbled myself and asked The Lord, “What
      needs fixing in me”, did the Holy Spirit begin his healing work.
      My husband is responding in such positive ways – ways that
      would never have happened if I had not begun giving him respect
      no matter what happens and focusing on my faults instead of
      his. My Mama always said, “It does not matter what anyone says
      or does to you – you are responsible for how you act ”
      We must make the first move of moving toward our husbands (or
      anyone for that matter) by doing what is right whether they are
      or not. God’s pleasure in that and thankfulness at all times is
      ‘off the charts’!

  7. Sunaina says

    Oh Lysa! I have no words to express my admiration & depth of joy & wonder I have after reading this beautiful article. It has truly blessed my Sunday, my circumstance & my perspective deep down to the bone marrow. Love you for this!!! God has blessed you with an effortless ease & simplicity that flows from your pen & an amazing power that decodes the mysteries of his word & kingdom through your devotions & write-ups. You have been nothing short of an inspiration to me not only spiritually but through your testimony and outlook towards life , its challenges and your tendency to look to HIM & tap into HIS mighty power to be blessed & become a blessing to many like me.
    I reckon this a your BEST write-up EVER!!! I would l;ove to be mentored by sumone like you. Loads of love & respect, Sunaina.

  8. Margie says

    Hi, My friend who is overweight has started your study on made to crave, satisfying your deepest desire with God not food. We are best friends but I suffer from anorexia and I am finding what you teach to be very useful. Of course I need to turn some things on it’s head i.e. I don’t go to the fridge and eat all the cinnamon rolls, I go to the fridge and cant eat anything!Going to a buffet or pot luck my problem is that instead of feeling overwhelmed and wanting to eat everything, I feel overwhelmed and walk away and eat nothing. So together my overweight friend and I are using the same material to be ’empowered’. Just wondering if you would be interested in me emailing you how I use your materials for my problems. How I change the words around to my perspective. Maybe this might be useful in later editions you could have anorexics and overweight people together. We are all suffering, just on a slightly different road. I wont post my personal journey on your blogg. If you would like to hear more about how I am using your materials just let me know. If not no worries. God bless Margie

  9. Erin O'Grady says

    I couldn’t figure out how to send a note other than this, so I apologize. I’m reading Made to Crave daily and I just finished day 17. You don’t have any verses on it, but I was wanting to share what verses it brought to mind for me:
    1 Cor 6:12-15a
    1 Cor 10:23-31
    Gal 5:1, 13

    I’m really LOVING this devotional. It’s amazing how right on target it is for someone like me (us, obviously) who struggles with food and weight issues. Thank you!

  10. Pat says

    I understand the pressing process. But in your article, you state the olive tree also needs the winds of relief. Where are those in my life. God has taken me from pressing to pressing, with no winds of relief in between. Some of the pressing is constant: my lifeless marriage, my husband’s porn addiction, my chronic back pain. Some of the pressing is situational: my husbands unemployment, attack from a neighbor that cost money and strife, job stress, financial worries. I have been a faithful through this, choosing to stay in my marriage, tithe and give cheerfully, do what is required. But right now, I’m just about on empty and I have seen no winds of relief.

    • Margie says

      Pat, I’ll pray for relief from the adversity in your life. May God shower you with His blessings! Find someone else to pray for also. It will ease your burden.

      • Pat says

        Thank you Margie. I am part of a small group working through a bible study and there are several women I am praying for there who’s struggles are much greater than mine. Hopefully, spring will re-energize me to get back on track.

    • Sharie says

      Dear Pat,
      Your email touched me deeply. I am asking God to releash you from the burden of fixing your spouse and cover you in refreshing winds, rains of joy, and spring sunshine. And give you the rest and energy to see God mysterious way of covering you in tiny deep, life sustaining surprises that give you refreshed joy. Let’s Give our heavy life up to God and keep asking -100 times a day if need be -to be filled with hope until we are filled to Overflowing with hope and joy. You are not alone Pat.

      • Pat says

        Thank you Sharie. You’re reply is water to my soul. Funny that you used the line “fixing my spouse”. I have had that phrase come into my life several times in the past week. Also, I was at a concert with my daughter on Saturday and the song “Free to Run” was performed. I think God is telling me to be free of some of my reponsibilities. But I want to choose carefully what I lay down to stay in his will. I pray double blessings on you and your family.

        • Sandra says

          So grateful to see how God’s comfort flows through His people! Excited for you, Pat!!

    • Stephanie says

      Pat, your post brought me to tears. I feel for you as I too am struggling so badly right now in my life emotionally. I do not know what to do with myself, my thoughts. I hope for you to be led down the right path and find your way. You seem like a wonderful person, I will pray for you.

  11. Sibonakaliso Ndlovu says

    Thank you Lisa. I’m going to forward this to my sister, she is having a difficult time

  12. Danielle says

    Hello lysa !!!
    I just wanna say thank you so much for helping me to relate everyday things to the scriptures!! I’ve always believed in god but am a rookie when it comes to reading the bible . This message was so touching and comforting to be reassured that god is there for you and that the tough times are to help you not hinder you … Thanks again n have a great day !!!

  13. David says

    There are several things that God wants each of us to learn in life… humility, because pride is so inappropriate in the Presence of God Almighty, who will alone be praised… Love, because selfishness flows from the spring of pride to the ocean of sin. But, love flows from a grateful, humble heart to the needs of others. To live daily in His presence and to walk in His ways, not in self righteousness, but in acknowledgement of His holiness, His grace, His love, His purity, and His presence for His pleasure and Glory… May every human be humbled and Good alone be praised!

  14. Amanda Evans says

    Dear Lysa,

    I just wanted to thank you for all that you do and especially for your Facebook posts. They are so real and relatable. I recently had baby #3 (unexpected pregnancy for my husband & I) and went from a full-time working mother to a full-time stay-at-home mom. WHAT A TRANSITION. Home all day with 3 little boys ages 5 and under. Oh my. But God has used this season to grow my faith and big (awesome) changes are taking place. I look forward to reading your posts (both FB & on your website) and admire you for being so honest and encouraging. God has certainly blessed you with wisdom (among many other things!) and I aspire to be as godly a woman as you. I’m hoping to attend the Women of Faith conference in Philadelphia this year to hear you speak and I got Unglued for my Kindle. I would love to meet you in person one day… I’ll have to pick up a hard copy of one of your books for you to sign… that would make my year! LOL. Thanks again! Sincerely, Amanda Evans

  15. Sue says

    Thank you Lysa for your illustration of the olive tree. You always explain things in a way that I can understand and relate to in my own life. I thank God for the way He is using you to touch so many lives every day.

  16. says

    Beautiful word! I just love your writing… this one in particular provoked understanding. I love the way the Lord constantly uses you in other’s lives to see the truth. I know you have touched my life and my heart. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 is one of many of my favorite scriptures… it is one of many that reminds me to persevere! Thank you again, Lisa!

  17. Jennifer Smith says

    I received Day 1 in the Holy Land but have not received another. How often will they be posted?

  18. Michelle F. says

    So BEAUTIFULLY worded. This was for me, Lysa. And I THANK YOU and the Holy Spirit that is working within you. Be Bleesed Always,

  19. Deedee says

    Lysa I’m so blessed when I take the time to read your postings.
    I pray to God that he allows you to continue with your writings. May he keep you full of grace, seasoned with salt, healthy and joyful. I ask in Christ Jesus name. Amen sister.

    Thank you . Keep it up… I appreciate your writings.

  20. Tumelo says

    Thank you Lysa for the illustration, sometimes when we are experiencing the crushing times, we fail to see beyond them, that something good and positive can come out of that. Thank you once again for reminding me, that in every situation God remains supreme and i can come out polished and shining. that indeed oil can come out of a crushing moment!

  21. Kimberly Green says

    Thank you for the insight. It has been a year of crushing. It helps to know that it is to rid me of bitterness. All things for the good of those who love God. My harsh east wind has forced me to learn how to rely on the fathers refreshing west wind. Thank you again for these words of wisdom.

  22. Frog says

    Love reading all your post. Thanks for posting your daily blogs. Enjoy reading and God is using you to do good work:)

  23. says

    A friend sent me this blog last week. It sat in my inbox, but didn’t get read until this morning. And it was perfectly timed. I have been in tears, undone, broken for months now. Yesterday, the pain intensified and it has felt as if each day brings more heartache. More sorrow. Reading this brought me some comfort. In my grief and in my tears, I’ve begged Jesus to take this all away, but my heart knows He is using this (ALL of this) to make me more beautiful. It hurts, but He is good.

  24. Beth says

    Dear Lysa,
    I am writing to you because years ago, you were generous enough to share on “Encouragement for Today” your testimony of deciding to have an abortion. At the time, I wrote an email to you, thanking you because your story made me realize that God truly does forgive completely. If God uses someone who’s had an abortion as a beautiful instrument of His will, and blesses her with a loving family and faithful ministry, than He will also forgive me completely, and I could forget my sins and move into his love. That was a tremendous blessing to me.

    However, now I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord, and I’ve realized that the logic in my email contained a flaw: I assumed that your sin was greater than my own. In this, I was imitating the older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son…judgments like that take away my own joy at being with the Father. It made me realize that categorizing sins is inherently replacing God’s judgment with my own, and is itself a sin which should be avoided.

    So, in an effort to tidy my heart before Easter, I wanted to apologize to you. I hope I didn’t “bump your happy” for too long that day! Judging steals my joy, but I hope it didn’t steal yours as well.
    May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you greatly in your current ministry,

  25. Chris says

    Thank you so much, your blog about the olive tree is what I needed today. My world is crashing around me and I’ve felt like I’m being crushed and that things are hopeless. My marriage is in grave danger, my 13 year old son is out of control, a male friend of ours from church, whom our children are very close to has been asked to step down from children’s ministry because they saw possible signs of grooming children and our daughters were involved. Also, my husband is quitting his job and I will need to go to work after being a stay at home mom for 16 years. I have felt very overwhelmed to the point I don’t feel I can take anymore. Thank you for helping me focus again on God’s plan for the hard times. Please pray that no matter what happens, that I will stay focused on Christ and know that God holds me securely in His hand and will never let go, and He is growing and preserving me through all this. Thank you and God Bless!

  26. Veronica Romero says

    Beautiful way to experience The Holy Land and learn how we can relate it to our lives now 🙂 Thank you Lysa for sharing and carrying out God’s purpose in you

  27. Bernice says

    I never thought about the olive tree in this way and I’m so glad you shared this with us, it’s a truly awesome way of looking at what we sometimes go through and how God uses every tiny detail of his word in order to teach us and transform us. I’ve really enjoyed the journey so far. Thank you so very much for opening my eyes to all of this.

  28. Deola says

    May 2013, I stood in front of those same olive trees in the garden of Gethsemane and God knows I wasn’t thinking of the olives. Thank you Lysa for letting God use you to remind of such a beautiful time in Jerusalem. This article helped me see it all again. Best part is that now it’s through your eyes, and I’m learning again. God bless you.

  29. Linda says

    Years ago I met a woman that showed me how to brine olives with lye to process them. Wonderful tasting they were. I will never look on the olive tree the same after knowing how they are processed and this spiritual application so beautifully written.

  30. says

    Oh how I love this Lysa… (Spelled it right, and it’s close to 3:00am, so I am ON IT)

    Thank you. Your insight is so powerful…it resonates so deeply in my wounded heart. And this Truth is real. I revisit my past record of crushing times and I have come out of each one stronger in Him and somehow more ‘processed’…”grown”…”purposeful”.

    I am always so amazed at your precious authenticity. This is why so many trust you, and your words… and your message of His Grace, His Hope…His Love.

  31. Michelle says

    Lysa, you are such a blessing. I love reading your posts, blogs and books. God has truly blessed you with an extraordinary gift to touch so many lives. I thank my almighty God for directing me to Proverbs 31 Ministries. It helped me when I experienced my crushed spirit and broken heart and still continues to. May God continue to Bless you, your family and the ministry beyond measures.

  32. Kelly says

    Thank you for sharing this. I really have no words that havent already been said. He KNOWS and your sharing is at the right time in the right place.

  33. Linda Annear says

    Once again Lysa, God has used you to speak to my heart. I am in a deep valley right now (I think I’m trying to dig to China) . Your messages lately have so inspired me. Given me peace in the middle of some very painful and confusing times. God Bless you and your ministry

  34. Sarah says

    I love how God uses so many different ways to speak to us, and through out time those ways can change. When my husband and I were first married we had a pretty tough “adjustment” period. God sent a stranger down our path that was the pastor I needed words of encouragement from, and he was also a retired Marine (the voice of reason my husband need to hear). God is good. And he knows exactly what we need better then we ourselves know.

  35. says

    Thank you Lisa for the insight, I brlieve God sent thos message to me as the trials I am going through have made me bitter in some ways. I do not want to live this way. I want to live ad God planned for me to live. I saw those Olive Tree’s. Amazing that they are 2000 and 3000 years old and still produce Olives.

  36. Lisa says

    Beautiful. Something so simple yet so touching. God is so good. I can relate to being hard pressed yet not crushed. Perplexed but not in despair. Persecuted but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed. God is in control and I love him. Thank you for allowing us to walk this journey with you, Lysa.


  37. says

    Love, love, love that you are sharing your experience with us!

    He was crushed for our sins and the punishment for our peace was upon him. This place of His grace-in the olive grove, providing oil for lighting our lamps…. So grateful. Perfect timing.

  38. Jovita Torres says

    The anointing oil …from the olive tree has brought alive to me at this moment of pressing. god used you to revive me today. shallom. Baruch haba b!shem Adonai.

  39. Debbie says

    I recently bought your book What Happens When Women Say Yes To God, and I am reading your blog postings as well as the daily devotions authored by you. Physical spiritual mentors are hard to find, but I believe I have found an excellent online mentor. You speak on a level that is very easy to understand and relate to – not so far above me like some of the theologians I read. I am seeking a deeper prayer life and relationship with Jesus. I think I can get there with your help. I am thankful for your ministry. May God give you many more years so you can continue to reach and effect others as you are doing for me.

  40. nicki says

    What a beautiful story. I so needed that. I just recieved a new liver Dec. 2013. This is alot of what my journey is. I am so blessed to be alive.