It’s a surprising fact of nature that it is the clouds that bring us the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The light refracted through the clouds creates colors and highlights the outlines of the clouds that we might otherwise overlook.
It’s a surprising blessing that it is the storms of life that bring us closer to God. How many times in scripture do we find the servants of the Lord encountering storms of one kind or another? Think about Noah, Abraham, Leah, Naomi, David, Daniel...the list goes on and on. Yet, through it all, God was present. As Keble’s hymn says, “Some softening gleam of love and prayer shall dawn on every cross and care.” It is the storms of life that bring our faith into relief as the Light shines from behind the clouds.
Often, the storm experience makes us feel like we are in a desert with no way out and even prayer seems dry and fruitless. During these times we learn to focus and depend on God. Then we wait until God is ready for us to act. Moses, Joseph, Elijah, and Paul immediately jump into my mind as some who experienced a desert time before they were ready to do what God prepared them for. In fact, the desert time was part what made them effective servants of the Lord.
What do we do in the storms and desert places we face? Take a lesson from our spiritual ancestors and continue to live and walk with God, even when God doesn’t seem present. Eventually, like Jeremiah we can come to the conclusion that, “Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness…The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” Lam. 3:22-26
Waiting isn’t easy. We want to ‘get on with our life.’ Maybe we want to ’do great things’ for God. However, you can’t force God’s hand. Waiting [on the Lord] is a discipline as much as prayer and fasting. The end result of faithful waiting is blessing. We are trained and refined and purified to better fulfill our calling. It is the storms and deserts that make us who we are meant to be. These times provide us with “Room to deny ourselves, a road to bring us daily nearer God.”
If you are in a waiting time or if you just want to deepen your faith walk this fall, I invite you to check out GoldenRule.com, my upcoming online study. You’ll find it right here during September. In the letter to James we are called to be 'doers of the word, not just hearers'.