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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Troublesome Thunderstorms in Our Lives - Suffering and Temptation


Do you know how to finish that little quote?  It is a quote from the poet Longfellow, and it says, “Into each life a little rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.”  You can probably guess why I thought of that; it’s April and here in Kansas, that means thunderstorms and tornadoes.  Maybe the fact that this was written on tax day here in the U.S. makes it especially relevant!

I was recently discussing Jesus’ saying found in Matthew 5:45:  “the rain falls on the just and the unjust.”  He also makes the same kind of comment about the sun.  When you are not in a time of drought, forecasts about rainy weather are often seen as gloomy, ruining weekend picnic plans or days working in the yard.  The blue skies and sunshine are what we long for, because they make our days so bright and cheery.  Longfellow’s use of the rain image clearly fits into this mold.  Jesus also seems to be presenting the sun versus the rain as contrasting images, so one draws the conclusion that the rain is the gloomy day and sunshine is the joyful day.  

But what if that isn’t correct?  

We have to remember that much of the land of Israel was rocky desert, and the crops grown there were very dependent on the critical seasonal rains for their survival.  It was the sun that scorches the earth and shrivels the plants.  Now granted, crops need sunshine to grow as well, but from everything I hear, our friends out in California would gladly trade a week of sunshine for a week of refreshing rains and mountain blizzards.  It’s all in one’s perspective isn’t it?  Perspective often flows out of circumstance.

I am thinking life might also be the same way.  

That is, we refer to the difficult times in our lives as the evil days with darkness and gloom.  Give consideration to the thought that those “rainy days” are actually the nourishing times of our lives.  Dark days are the days essential for the growth God seeks us to know.  

These threatening and troubling storms in our lives are the bearers of God’s blessings, more than the easy and prosperous times.  

Romans 5 and 1 Peter 1 certainly seem to suggest that is the case.  What we often interpret as storms may actually be refreshing rains upon the droughts of our inner lives, and we simply may not realize it until after the rains has moved on and left our hearts bursting with the blossoms of God’s grace.  

Sometimes it is all a matter of perspective.  From personal experience you can trust me, when times are hard, I know it is hard to keep a heavenly perspective!

Odds are good that somebody reading this can relate to the sense of wrestling with life’s storms and experiencing them as darkness and trouble rather than agents God will use to shape us.  Not that we need to make ourselves martyrs and long for extra suffering and hardship.  

We do need to remember that not all storms are destructive….many bring refreshment and growth.

Today's devotional from, “Our Daily Bread,” by Anne Cetas, takes God’s promise to provide a way of escape out of temptations and contrasts that with the fact that with suffering, sometimes the only way is to go through it, because escape from the suffering is not always an option provided.  She points out that it was also not an option Jesus could take, as his prayer in the Garden demonstrates.  Then she ends with a couple of pithy thoughts, and today I’d like to end by quoting them for you:

“ When life seems too much to bear, that's when we throw ourselves on God's mercy, and He holds us.....With God behind you and his arms beneath you, you can face whatever lies ahead."

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