It has been raining a lot in Florida. As in people are making references to building an ark like Noah kind of raining a lot. This morning as I was out for a morning jog, there was a mixture of sun and storm clouds mingling together in the sky. The ominous, dark, threaten clouds inching closer, slowly taking over the sunshine. What a great metaphor for life. So often in our lives things are going great. The sun is out, laughter is easy, and life is good. Everything seems to come up roses. Food tastes better, the air is sweeter, and you think about writing poetry. Suddenly, the metaphorical storm clouds roll into life. The refrigerator breaks, the same week you hurt your back, the same week that neighbor, co-worker, annoying person whose voice is like nails on a chalk board comes into your life breathing all over things. In short, the rain comes. Suddenly, things are NOT so great. Your stomach is in knots, you feel flustered or frustrated or flummoxed in some indescribable ways.
Of course, you'd expect me to suggest that the sun is just hidden behind the clouds. That the sun will "Come out tomorrow...tomorrow, I love you tomorrow!" (Did I mention I just saw Annie??) But I think part of the problem is that we don't know how to live through the storms. Maybe we don't know how to live through the sun either. But we wish away, pray away, move away from the storms of life. We have constructed a theology concerning God where God certainly does not cause the storms, but neither do we think that God can be found there either.
Recently, I asked in a sermon, do we leave room for our loving, still speaking, grace-giving God to say, "No." Not in that "parent voice," but a kind and gentle, "No." Do we trust God's wisdom enough to listen sometimes when God is not opening windows or doors or anything for us. Some of the best hymns were written in the storms of life. Look at the refrain of "It is well with my soul":
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
The composer wrote those words after his wife and child died in a storm. Now, I don't want to suggest that you should sing these words halfheartedly or as some kind of mask for facing the storms of life. Sometimes we use religion as a way to hide behind facing the storms. We sing about trust while our soul wants to cry out like Job, the psalmists, and the prophets. Then, we drift away from the church thinking it did not speak to our deepest concerns. The struggle for the church is that there is no one-size-fits-all way to face the storms. One pathway feels like an umbrella to one person and leaves another feeling all wet. Another pathway feels like a blessing and balm to another, leaves another person frustrated. Facing the storm takes time and takes relationships.
Does your life feel drenched in sun or soaking wet rain right now? How is it with your soul? I pray as a church we can allow space for those in all places to express what is in their hearts in worship, in education, and also getting outside ourselves in sharing grace and love with others. May you sense more than a trace of God's grace in your life wherever and whoever you are.