Saturday, October 10, 2009

Silver Linings

We tell each other that "every cloud has a silver lining," when times get tough. We cling to this phrase as a single strand of positivity that will keep us from losing all hope. As much as we need silver linings, though, they still feel like a consolation prize to us. We often measure the value of the silver lining only by its ability to ease the pain caused by the cloud. I've come to realize, however, that  oftentimes the silver lining is the entire point of the cloud. The Bible uses imagery of pruning plants and burning away chaff in a purifying fire to explain how God helps us grow. If we imagine ourselves in the place of the bush being pruned or the metal being purified, this doesn't seem like a very fun process. We don't want to be cut or burned, but we do want to grow and mature. I've noticed that many of the hardships that I have faced have caused me to solidify my foundation of faith and to become closer to God and more able to love others in the end. I consider those experiences to be blessings that only looked like curses because I could not discern the importance of the silver lining at the time.

When we are suffering, it can be so easy to see nothing but the cloud and forget all about the silver lining. We may think that the blessing is worthless if we have to go through such difficulty to receive it. But I have learned that when I think that way, I'm really missing the point. The suffering I endure as a result of being under the cloud will not last forever. But the silver lining carries a gift from God that will be with me and help me to grow for a long time. I've come to realize that in challenging circumstances, the silver lining is the true purpose, and the cloud is just the pruning shears or the purifying fire. I don't want to get so distracted by the discomfort brought by the cloud that I miss the silver lining. That would be a terrible, pointless waste.

I wrote a poem many years ago that illuminates my thoughts on blessings in disguise very well, so I would like to share it here:

And It Was
"Beautiful," she said, and it was
But they did not understand
It was raining and dark
The sky was filled with clouds
And all were soaked and cold
Still she smiled and lifted her hands heavenward
"Beautiful," she said, but they did not see it
For they were cowering on the ground
Their eyes clenched shut
Praying for the tempest to end
Thus they did not see the shaft of light
The single beam that broke through the clouds
Illuminating the tiny flower at her feet
That reached its petals toward the welcome rain
The sweet, life-giving, rain
Yes, the thunder was its music of renewal
But to the people it was terror
And as she sang "Beautiful"
They moaned and refused to look
When suddenly the drops upon the petal
Began to shimmer and shine
And they caught the ray of light
Throwing a rainbow across the dark sky
A single strand of hope in the cold night
But they did not see because they were afraid
They did not know because they only felt the fear
But she saw and knew and rejoiced
She sang and danced through the rainbow
And she stood in the light and let it take the chill away
Horrible, awful, they thought with a shiver
But she only laughed, for she knew the truth
"Beautiful," she said, and it was.

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