Sometimes life is like that.
It is impossible, and not helpful, to live all of life on a warm sandy beach. It is hard to see at the time, but the valley of the shadow of doubt, or "dark night of the soul," as monk Thomas Merton calls it, is an important piece in the puzzle of life. When hard times come, we have an opportunity to transcend circumstances. Like Paul, we can discover how to be content both in adversity and prosperity. His primary goal in life was to know Christ and make him known, not to avoid tribulation or achieve success. To him, it mattered little which circumstance he was currently facing. Both propelled him toward his highest goal.
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13 NIV)
Jerry Sittser, in A Grace Revealed, explains, "It is a simple and easy task to live by faith when light shines all around us and God provides ample evidence of his presence, goodness, and power... Faith always comes easy when it isn't really needed... Predictability is not always good, control not always preferable, happiness not always ideal."
Though I do not desire them, I need times of darkness to expose the true light of my life. I need disappointment to expose my character. I need confusion to bring me to my knees before the one who really controls the universe.
When the things of this world are stripped away, I focus more easily on what is eternal. Currently, I am gazing intently on the unrelenting love of God and the relationship he himself enjoys and invites me into.
I believe tomorrow's forecast might include sun.
Sun on my face and Son in my heart, thank you for the Apostle Paul and the gift of perspective. And for never, ever leaving me alone or giving up on shaping me into the person you know I was meant to be. Amen.