If you’re a fan of the Little House on the Prairie books, you’ll remember the blizzard that forced Pa to tie a rope connecting the house and the barn, so that he wouldn’t get lost when he went outside to care for the livestock. White outs aren’t fictional; visibility in a snowstorm can be reduced to feet instead of miles.
In blizzard country, it can snow and blow until you lose sight of the horizon, as it did here two weeks ago. I measured the increasing severity of the storm by objects I lost sight of–first the horizon, then the neighbors’ houses, then the road, and, last, the trees in front of our house. A white out. A foot of snow fell overnight and into the next day, and the wind whipped the tiny flakes into drifts four feet high.
It’s easy to lose perspective when your world becomes smaller and smaller, when all you see are the storms of life roaring around you, when the barn disappears.
Maybe a loved one has died.
Maybe you face a seemingly endless task of caring for family members.
Maybe your financial situation is precarious.
Maybe the results of the latest lab test are disheartening.
Maybe family members who should have loved you, haven’t.
Maybe the doctors are mystified and can’t figure it out what “it” is.
Sometimes I feel like Laura, peering through the frosted window, struggling to see the barn during a white out. I begin to doubt God’s love and care for me when I am in the middle of great trials. At times I empathize with Job, thinking that God
. . . would crush me with a storm
and multiply my wounds for no reason.
Job 9:17 NIV
Eventually, storms end. Skies clear. Howling winds subside. What is left behind?
Drifts of sparkling snow,
gorgeous blue shadows,
bright, moonlit nights.
What is left when our personal trials pass? If we cooperate with God and allow him to work in us, the beauty of a changed character remains. God can take the inevitable storms and use them to transform us.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4 NIV
James speaks of a joy during trials, a joy that is hard to imagine when we are in the middle of a difficult time. But this joy isn’t the same as gleeful happiness. In fact, we may actually be in pain.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
I Peter 1:6 NIV
We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Romans 5:3-5 MSG
Who wouldn’t want to be more patient, more mature? Who wouldn’t want to persevere and have a stronger faith?
Me. Sometimes. I can get so tired in the middle of the blizzard, I lose my perspective, and I don’t want to move forward. Those are the times you can pray for me, and if you get disoriented and weary during stormy trials, I’ll pray for you. And during the next white out, let’s follow that rope to the barn.
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