Springtime in the northwest keeps us on our toes. Almost every day this spring, we have seen rain in some form. Looking at the weather forecast, it may just look like rain clouds for days on end. But we know differently! Sometimes that forecast means a light mist with sun breaks, or the thrill of intermittent downpours opening up to sunny blue skies.
As Pacific Northwesterners, we learn to take advantage of these short sun breaks. They are a chance to enjoy the warmth of the sun on your face, to be encouraged and refreshed. On a sunny day sandwiched between days of rain, we rush outside to garden, take a jog, ride bikes, or just roll down our windows as we drive. We know how to appreciate a sunny day, or even a sunny hour!
We’ve learned not to wait too long to enjoy those short little sun breaks. They may not last. So, we look for them in-between the rain showers, anticipate them, enjoy them when they come, so we can be refreshed and renewed after they’re gone.
We’ve also gotten good at appreciating the rain. Most of the time. Look at any gorgeous vista of the Northwest and anyone can see why this is called the Evergreen State. The lush green trees and hills are framed by snowy mountains, the Puget Sound, and the streams and lakes winding through all the beauty. None of it would be possible without the rain.
It is the same in our life with God.
We may enjoy the sunny seasons of life more, but most of our spiritual growth and beauty comes from the rain. As a Christian, I am still learning to appreciate the rain and anticipate the sun breaks. It is not a matter of IF the rain comes, but WHEN.
Years ago, my family went through a tough, stormy year that just wouldn’t let up. We had major expenses with a rental house we couldn’t seem to sell or afford. Our daughter got appendicitis – the month I accidentally let her insurance lapse. My father got very sick and nearly died. And we faced court hearings and difficulties adopting our foster sons. It was one of the hardest years of my life and I remember thinking at the end of it all, “So long 2013, good riddance! 2014 will be sunnier.” I could not wait for 2014!
2014 proved to be difficult in its own way, as God took away one dream for our family and began giving us another. “Surely everything will be settled by next year. 2015 will be sunnier!”
But 2015 was full of transitions as we faced moving our family back to the northwest – it took a lot longer than we hoped to change careers, houses, schools, churches, everything. We grieved this rough crossing as we waited to see what God would provide in our new life.
2016 found us finally settling in to new jobs, schools and community. We stuck close to each other, rested and recovered from the previous few years. We were exhausted. But wiser.
Whew! Where was that sunny year I was waiting for?? This was a long lesson for me in not waiting for “when life is always sunny.” That year may not come. (And too much sun can make for a dry, shallow Christian!) But I learned to enjoy the short sun breaks in between the rain. I also learned to appreciate the different kinds of rain. It was in those rainy seasons that I grew the most in depth, character, maturity. I got perspective.
It only takes remembering one of those storms, to appreciate a sweet sunny moment. It reminds me to cuddle with my kids on the couch, instead of busying myself with other grown up stuff. To appreciate our home, our jobs, our community, because there was a time we didn’t have any of those things. To invite a friend over for dinner, or out to coffee despite a messy house or busy schedule. To steal away some quiet time with God and feel the warmth of Him on my face, between the “intermittent showers” of the day. I don’t wait for a long, sunny season to do what God has put on my heart to do. I jump at the first sun break because I don’t know how long it may last.
God does not promise us constant sunny days or an easy life when we choose to follow Him. In fact, He assures us we will have sun and rain just like everyone else. (Matthew 5:45)
But He does say that He will use those storms in your life for GOOD. (Romans 8:28) He will give you wisdom and perspective, He will cause your roots to grow deep and strong. (Luke 6:48) He will make you more mature and fruitful. (James 1:2-4) So that when the hope of sun does come, you will enjoy it all the more. You will relish the happy days, not taking them for granted, because you know they are not a guarantee. They are not even what makes you beautiful or strong.
You have the rain to thank for that.
God is teaching me to appreciate the Spring rains in my life, all the while enjoying the hope of the sun breaks in between.
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God… we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint. Romans 5:2-5