by Catherine McNiel
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. Isaiah 43:2a (NLT)
On a hot, humid afternoon my kids and I sat on the porch, watching the western sky turn from sunny blue to a dark, ominous grey. We were under a severe weather warning and knew what was coming - 80 mph winds, tornadoes, softball sized hail, and driving rain. After stocking the basement with candles, radios, and batteries, all we had left to do was wait for it to hit.
In our corner of the world, weather always comes from the west. Why check the forecast when you can sit on the front porch? From here we can see it all. The sky overhead may be bright, but we see a storm coming. And while the storm rages, we can see a hint of blue promising that all will soon be passed.
The storm was bad, as predicted. We hunkered down in the basement, the kids shaking and crying while I held them as a mother hen covers her chicks. “We saw this coming” I reminded them, “and we can see it passing - see how light the sky is at the horizon? Storms come - we can be sure of that. But blue skies come again too.”
A few weeks later, we were having one of those days. Just back from a wonderful, exhausting vacation, the whole family was cranky and impatient, let down and disoriented. At one point I glanced towards the western sky, my soul instinctually searching for a sign that change was coming.
Suddenly I knew what lesson God was teaching us. I brought my turbulent kids back into the mother hen position and reminded them of the recent storm. We knew it was coming but we also knew it was passing. We were ready for it, we waited it out, and then blue skies came again.
This is the story of life. Hard times come, that is certain. Just like a storm, we watch them roll towards us, consume us, and then move on. Hard times - horrible, terrible times - will come. But they pass. Sunshine and peace are just as certain as darkness and difficulty. God is always making things new.
I enjoy teaching my children about truth, but this lesson feels particularly urgent to me. Up to this point their suffering has been child-sized, but this will not always be the case; these smaller trials are preparation for those that lie ahead. I cannot protect them from life’s trouble, at times so harrowing and terrible they may lose everything and consider letting go entirely. But I can prepare them to persevere, to recognize God’s upholding hand, and know his voice in the storm. I can teach them the nature of life, suffering, and hope. We can look to the west and know that darkness is rolling towards us. But at the darkest hour the western sky also shows that light has once again broken through.
Prayer: Father, as we face the days before us - and the suffering and joy they hold - may we hold on to perseverance and hope. You are always, always making things new.
Catherine McNiel writes to open eyes to the creative and redemptive work of God in our daily lives. She is striving to see beauty, learning to expand her perspective, and praying to keep her eyes and heart open. She is a member of the Redbuds Writer's Guild and blogs at www.catherinemcniel.com.