It was rainy today in Houston. A typical winter, yucky day. Yes, I can wear shorts but this is just dreary.
This makes me think about life and the journey of finding God in the midst of the everyday and ordinary stuff that we do. This day makes me think about the suffering of the world, those who are facing great pain and loss. I think about the Christians who are being martyred as I write this. About wives who try and stay faithful to God when their husbands couldn't care less. About parents whose kids are making poor decisions. About people who have made radical choices to serve God, but things did not turn out like expected.
The journey of following God will be marked by rainy days, rainy seasons, and sometimes even rainy years.When you are in those dreary times, all you can see is rain, grey and nothingness. The sun is nowhere. But those days are part of the journey. The dreary seasons teach us that walking with God is not about stepping from one triumphal act to the next triumphal act. Life with God is not a ladder of continually ascent.
Walking with God includes ups and down. We learn much in suffering. We are transformed in those valley times. Many times we are told just "get over" the dreary days, to rise above them as if they don't exist. Basically this means that we tell those in bad marriages to smile and move on. To those mourning the loss of a child, we tell them that there is more important stuff to do than to feel their deep sense of loss. To those who are failing at their job, to get "back on the horse" and try again.
But when we do this, we miss the fact that God is sitting with us in the darkness. He is walking with us in the valleys. In the pain, in the failure, in the loss—that's where God is. He is not waiting for us to get our act together so that we can walk out of the valley and up the mountain where the "real" action is. The fact is that the real action may very well be in the rain. We so often fall victim to the lie that the primary goal is to get out of the rain and get in the daylight, that we can be triumphant and successful no matter what. If that's true then Jesus was a huge failure and the cross was a mistake. If that's true then the Old Testament prophets missed the point. If that's true then the Apostle Paul was really dumb (his ministry ended in a Roman jail after all).
God meets us with his kind of light in the midst of the darkness. It may not be obvious to others. Most of the time, it has taken me a while to see his light because it comes in a way that I don't expect. But it's in theses seasons that the rain goes deep within our souls and changes us from the inside out. This is the journey of spiritual formation. In the darkness, we are forced to make new space for God that we would not make when we are basking in the light of the mountain top.