It’s November—the warmth of mid-fall weather is gone—replaced by cooler, almost winter-like weather. Gray clouds cover up blue skies and the last of the yellow, golden, and red leaves fall as it rains, leaving the tree branches bare. It’s sort of a depressing time of the year, don’t you think? We can sort of look forward to later in the month when Thanksgiving Day will come. The seasonal changes remind me of the changing rhythms of life—often warm and bright and then at other times, cloudy and gray, rain falling in cleansing riffs. In the midst of life’s rough spots, we take time to be thankful for the blessings we receive in life.
This mixture of happy and sad, blessings and difficulties, is reflected in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians as he writes:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:4-7)
While it may seem to be easier said than done—not to worry about some problematic issue or events in our lives—this scripture reminds us of the importance of not dwelling on our difficulties to the exclusion of all else. If we only focus on the troubling issues of life, we could quickly become overwhelmed. If we do remember that God is present with us, if we acknowledge the troubles we are experiencing and ask God for help, guidance, and strength, our burden may begin to lighten. If we also give thanks for the blessings we have as well as for the ways we have experienced God’s help in the past, we will be more at peace and new hope can come as we move through whatever may be casting shadows on our life.
At times we may feel as if God is not present in our sadness, illness, or loss. Yet, just as the sun does not leave when cloudy weather comes, God does not leave either. I remember many years ago when I boarded an airplane on a dark, cloudy day, and the amazement I felt as we flew up through the clouds. It appeared that the sun was gone, but as we climbed through the clouds and broke into the sky above, the sun emerged, bright and very present as we climbed high above. When I was grounded under the clouds, it seemed as if the sun was gone—but in the sky above I realized that the sun had only been temporarily covered.
Life is a mixture of opposites: sunshine and clouds, cold and warmth, rain and shine, happy times and sad ones, tears and laughter. Give thanks for the blessings, for the rays of sunshine, for days of rain, for seasons, for life, for change and for constancy, for God’s love and care that leads us through it all.
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Thanks, Kent, for your encouraging words today. I am reading them in the midst of a windy, cloudy, rainy morning AND in the midst of some scary, anxious times in our nation. I appreciate your focus on God’s promise. Somehow trusting it and allowing my life to be shaped by it is a huge challenge these days.
Same here, Jim!
Amen to the paradox in life and faith