The day started off rainy and cool, but the sun’s cracking through the clouds now, and it’s surely warming up outside, just like hope pours through us and warms us if we but let it.
In that regard, it helps to consider Your kindness, the myriad gifts You surround us with. Sometimes all we see is clouds- illness, discouragement, our own brokenness and that of the world. But then You remind us of Grace- Your goodness poured out on the soul of the broken. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
And we remember: the love, the peace, the provision. The softness of our lover’s kiss, the laughter of our children or grandchildren. The glory of springtime bursting forth in a riot of colors. Hints of grace amid the rubble of life on a fallen planet. The lily pushing up through crumbled asphalt; the song of a robin on the branch of a dead tree.
We really can choose on what we focus, can’t we? Joy or sorrow, feast or famine, conflict or peace.
Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) made that choice upon learning of the death of his children at sea:
Though Satan should buffet, though trials may come, let this blessed assurance control:
that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate and has shed His own blood for my soul!
It is well with my soul…
Spafford made a choice, to look beyond the cruel waves that had snatched away those most precious to him and to see grace. And seeing grace, he found peace. I’m sure it didn’t take away the pain-how could it? But he had hope.
How fickle our souls can be! An illness, an unkind word, even someone who unintentionally cuts us off in traffic, and all of a sudden the clouds block the sunshine of grace, and the anger and frustration gnaw at us.
But we can choose- we can allow the clouds to overcome us, or we can overcome them by looking through them with the eyes of faith.
Like Spafford, Jeremiah made the latter choice. His depression and melancholy at the destruction of Jerusalem were a heavy burden on his soul. But then he chose-he chose! to look beyond the rubble and the destruction:
Lamentations 3:19-26– New International Version (NIV)
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
Over and over the scriptures describe faith as a kind of seeing- a looking beyond, a looking through. It’s not denial of reality, but connecting with a reality that’s much deeper, much truer, much greater than what our senses can access. Paul put it this way:
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 New International Version (NIV)
16 …..we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.