This last week was a doozy. I found myself so discouraged by the end of the week, I literally just wanted to leave my life behind, sever all connections and live alone with my family in the woods somewhere. Every now and then I have this kind of desire. I grow so frustrated - hurt is probably a better word - by the people around me that I wish I could just start a new life somewhere else. But I know that’s not how God has designed us. Unfortunately personal relationships with other people are part of God’s great plan for us. Also unfortunately, these personal relationships seem to be the great source of frustration and pain in life.
When going through a period of discouragement, I find it very easy to simply embrace feelings of self-pity and bask in the dark feelings that permeate my soul. This is not a proper response, though. We are to look to the great God who created us, saved us and is currently making us into something better to comfort us. It’s not an easy thing to do when feeling so black.
On this particular occasion I was lifted again to a thankful spirit by two circumstances. The two circumstances came in the form of two different means, both impersonal and personal.
Due to my sad state, I decided to pull away from my wife while our daughter was sleeping and sit quietly upstairs on our patio. It just happened to be the time for the sunset. I sat quietly watching the sky change colours, brilliantly. It had been raining all weekend long, and had only just stopped, so there were a lot of differently shaped clouds in the air, dancing rapidly across the sky. There quick entrances and exits on the stage made for a constantly changing scene before my eyes. Curiously there was one cloud that maintained its position in the sky, while all the others hurried on before it. The sky behind the fixed cloud lit up in a bright gold. It seemed as though there was a fire behind it blazing uncontrollably and that the small dark clouds passing before it were the smoke from that fire. It also gave the effect that the sky had been ripped open at this one place and I was being given a glimpse into the dwelling place of the Lord. Off to the side there were clouds stretched out like a cotton sheet, couched with red all around. The scene looked entirely surreal, like a cheaply made set, and yet it was all real. Somewhere as I was thinking about God reigning on His throne, ruling the heavens and the earth, I glanced behind me and saw the largest rainbow perhaps I have ever seen (most good rainbows seem to take this superlative quality). I was amazed and thanked the Lord for His promise. After showing me His glory, He reminded me of His promises. I sat there thinking, thanking. I began to think about Brian MacLaren for some reason. I thought about how he believes Genesis is just a book of fables that people thought up to explain natural events. For him the account of the flood is a nice way to explain rainbows. I began to not care about Brian MacLaren anymore. He can believe what he wants to, but he’s missing out on the promises of God. My heart grew warm with thanksgiving that the Lord spared mankind through Noah, and that He promised never to bring about such a terrible catastrophe again. I was reminded again of G.K. Chesterton’s quip: ‘Oscar Wilde said that sunsets were not valued because we could not pay for sunsets. But Oscar Wilde was wrong; we can pay for sunsets. We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde.’ I will pay for my sunset and my rainbow by not being Brian MacLaren. The payment is worth it as well, as God rewarded me with an incredible affinity to Himself through a revealing of His glory and a reminder of His promises.
After the heavens had finished their performance I went back downstairs to my family. This is when the second joy found its way into my heart. My daughter for some reason was standing at the couch, supporting herself with one arm. She looked at me, smiled, and then started babbling excitedly. Her eyes gleamed with a rapturous joy. She seemed to be telling us that she was happy to be with her mommy and daddy. My wife and I just sat there listening to her, watching her explore the world around her and grow excited. Every now and then she would look up at us, smile and babble. Our hearts melted at every sound. God used this little girl to remind that relationships aren’t all bad. Joy can and should be found in our relationships with one another. It only depends on how much we value the glory of God, and how often we think on His promises.