By Christopher Everson
Pastor of Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church, Sachse TX
My wife Tracy travels for work from time to time, and one of her recent trips took her to Florida. As luck would have it, a tropical storm blew into the area while she was there. This was a bit disconcerting for both of us, as her return trip home became a bit of a question mark and not a certainty.
The night before she was supposed to come home, it rained without ceasing…and the next morning wasn’t much better. Travel delays seem to be a routine thing in the airline industry, so we were preparing for a late arrival home.
Unbelievably, Tracy boarded the plane on time and was lucky enough to arrive home without delay. When she got home, I asked about the flight, thinking I’d hear stories of turbulence and bad weather. Instead, her answer surprised me: “It was a beautiful day!”
Confused, I inquired further. How could it have been a beautiful day when the weather was so nasty? I mean, come on… there was a tropical storm bearing down on her location!
Tracy went on to explain: “Yeah, the weather was gross, and the takeoff was really choppy. But then we broke through the storm and got above the clouds… and I saw the blue sky and sun shining. If you looked down, you could still see the storm and all its turmoil, but that’s not where my focus was. I was enjoying the sunshine of a beautiful day!
That’s how our lives can be sometimes. Our circumstances can be all consuming… dark and dreary… a storm on the horizon… and no apparent way out. The psalms are full of accounts of the darkness times imaginable. The psalmists knew all too well the pain and struggles that life can bring.
One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 22. In this psalm, David is having an all-out argument with himself. He feels completely abandoned by God…in fact, he even uses the word “forsaken”. He talks about his constant cries of anguish going unanswered. Isolated and depressed, all David could see was the storm.
And then in the next breath, he reminds himself of the fact that God has been so faithful to him in the past. He reminds himself of his ancestors’ faith… and how he has trusted God his entire life. He remembers all the times that God has come to the rescue in his life and the lives of those who came before him.
In this psalm, David is detailing a full-on wrestling match. Everything he was experiencing right then and there (doubt) was pitted against everything he knew to be true from past experience (faith).
David is no different than us. Our struggles can be all consuming, and we can get discouraged to the point that there appears to be no help for us. This is a lonely place to be. But when you break through the storms of life and focus on hope for the future, things start looking a little brighter. Sometimes all it takes is shifting our focus.
If this is where you find yourself today, take a few minutes and remind yourself of the good things in your life… how God has been faithful to you and your family in the past. Write them down as you recall each incident, and take time to really reflect on them. Consider sharing them with a trusted friend. God hasn’t forgotten you in your struggles.