By Greg Watson
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2 (NLT)
Outside my Oklahoma apartment building, I enjoyed watching storms roll in from the west, especially at night. The flat plains and scrub trees offered unobstructed views of storms approaching on the horizon.
I loved the lightning. In hindsight, it wasn’t very smart standing outside being mesmerized by something that could kill me. Call it my Ben Franklin moment. Even so, it was truly amazing. Out of the darkness, one large bolt separated into dazzling branches of light each producing even more branches until finally an entire tree of lightning lit the night sky. The storm teased me to count all the radiant fingers, then hid them from me before I could reach “two.”
But lightning is powerful stuff. It can be hotter than the surface of the sun producing billions of volts of electricity. It’s not something to take lightly. I’ve heard it said the brightest lightning bolt comes from the darkest thundercloud. Scientifically I don’t know if this is true, but in the reality of Christian life it certainly is.
I have seen many ominous clouds on my horizon heralding the approach of a life storm bent upon my destruction. The loss of my job. The split of my church. The death of my father. These storms and others had the potential to lash into my life with punishing winds and crashing waves. But in the midst of those darkest clouds the luminescence of God’s amazing power has captivated me.
During months with no income for my family, the streak of His divine provision split my financial darkness. In the aftermath of a messy church separation, the power of God’s agape love and the healing of forgiveness left me awestruck in my disillusionment. Then with the heart-wrenching loss of my father to cancer, the brilliant hope of eternity burst into view knowing Daddy now reveled in the eternal roll of God’s thunder.
It was during these storms of guaranteed destruction, God granted me impossible victory. Even though I don’t believe I must go through a storm in order to see God’s power I do appreciate it more when his power flashes against the backdrop of a terrible tempest.
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:3 (NLT)
As hard as it is to accept, the destructive gale of an angry storm blows in an opportunity that comes to me through no other way. Because it is only after God erupts on the scene during the most violent of storms can I understand the joy James described—the joy of knowing God more.
When times are good, I know God loves me. But when times are bad, I have the occasion to see his love in action. After my dreams have been shattered, my course has been altered, and life doesn’t turn out the way I knew it would, God’s love is there to help me rebuild. Only this time I’m better for having weathered the storm. The part of me that has survived is now seasoned by experience. My new course is plotted more out of who I am becoming rather than where I think I should be going. I’m ready for the next storm.
How about you? Can you feel the headwinds of an approaching storm rushing past your face? Are life’s darkest clouds massing on your horizon and pointed straight at you? If so, keep your faith. God hasn’t left you. This storm is nothing to be feared. Rather it is your opportunity to grow and mature in Christ. Expect to experience the most brilliant and powerful lightning bolt of your life.
Stand outside. Face the storm. Have your own Ben Franklin moment.
© Gregory M. Watson, 2011
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Greg Watson is an environmental engineer at a chemical plant in far western Kentucky. He enjoys spending time with his wife and three children and enjoys blogging when he gets the chance. Currently he writes a blog for his church at www.RiverGroups.com. His personal blog of essays and Devotions can be found at www.quesoveritas.wordpress.com.
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