“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete…” James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Have you ever risen early in the morning with one purpose — to watch the sun rise? I especially like to take time for sunrises, so I purposefully chose to rise early each day during my vacation.
One morning I found myself sitting on the dock facing east, looking for the sun to rise up over the lake.
Another morning I sat on the long veranda of a century-old hotel gazing at the Ohio River , waiting for the golden glow that would announce the sun’s arrival.
Days later, toward the end of my trip, I wrapped myself in a heavy blanket and curled up in the glider on the front porch of the cabin where I had spent the night. Peering over the Utah landscape, once again I searched the horizon.
Soon a bright orange blaze appeared, forcing me to close my eyes because of its brilliance. In a few seconds, with wide-opened eyes, I continued my search for the morning’s drama, only to see a half globe sitting on top of the mountains. I kept watching, not wanting to miss the spectacular sight. Then, in another blink of an eye, the sun lifted itself from the peaks, and hung there in the sky – a perfect golden circle.
That was it. It went so quick. The sun had come up, creeping into the day, and now it simply dangled — a yellow ball in the air, surrounded by blue, looking like a child’s simple drawing.
For a few minutes I pondered my disenchantment with this particular sunrise. Is there such a thing as an incomplete, imperfect sunrise? At that moment I believed there was. I had just experienced it. And, I remembered others like it, somewhat lackluster.
Why had the sunrise not impressed me this day? Where was all the drama I had expected? Then I realized there is no drama in a sunrise without clouds.
Clouds – they’ve been given a bum rap, but all along, these predictors of bad weather, these symbols of negativity, sadness, blues, and gloom really serve to expand light, reflect color, cast dazzling rays, and paint incredible scenes in the sky.
A sunrise without clouds is like a life without trials and hardships. I do all I can to avoid challenges and difficulties, but the fact is the so called “clouds” in my life can cast me in a certain aura of God’s splendor. A life free of complications and struggles can resemble a bland sunrise … little contrast, seemingly dull artistry, and little context in which I can reflect the Son.
Truth is, the people I respect and admire most are those whose lives have been filled with “clouds” but they walk through any weather with God. These people walk in splendor, surrounded with a certain attractive and hard-to-capture beauty. They are people I seek out on a regular basis. I pursue them because I want to bask in their glow and confidence. They leave me in awe.
One thing is sure. I’m never disappointed when I find myself in the company of those who have learned to rise up in the midst of clouds. They don’t seek to avoid cloudy days; rather they stand up to walk in dignity, accepting the brilliant contrasts and magical rays God can create despite and through their adversity.
It is in their presence I realize, a life free of clouds holds no attraction. Now I see cloudy days in a positive light. May I never shun them again, for I realize clouds build character, add color, and separate the bland from the brilliant.
Dear Lord, I praise You for the lessons You teach me through nature. Forgive me for choosing to retreat from the clouds You allow to come my way. I know You can use the clouds of adversity in my life to cause me to be more relational and compassionate. I pray the beauty of brokenness will attract others to You . In Jesus’ Name, Amen .