Thursday, September 1, 2016

Rose Gardens Need a Little Rain

Yesterday, I was sitting at my desk in the morning and the sun was so bright coming through my office window from the East, that I had to move my computer. Then in the afternoon, the dark clouds were looming in the East. Rain was on its way. This has been an unusual summer. Though we have had some blistering temperatures, we have also had more rain than usual. I've learned not to complain about the heat, the cold or rain, because, here in Oklahoma, it's subject to change daily. We might as well.....go with the flow!

Isn't that like our personal "climates", too? One day we are bright with a sunny disposition. Things are going our way -- even the lights are turning green before we get to them. And, another day, it's cloudy, rainy with thunderstorms overtaking us. The thrills of that "shout-hallelujah" victory can be overtaken by that "woe is me"
agony of defeat.

It's inevitable that there will be ups and downs in our lives. Country Music singer, Lynn Anderson, made the song "Rose Garden" famous. The lyrics were: “I beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, there’s got to be a little rain sometime.”

When we read the writings of the Apostle Paul, we might think that he and Lynn Anderson were singing the same song. Paul talked a lot about suffering, but he also talked a lot about the peace of God. He was talking about a calm that comes because of God's love for us. The calm that comes even when the storm clouds gather. Paul even had the audacity to tell us to "rejoice in our sufferings"! He said in Romans 3:3-5 "We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

Are you kidding me? We're supposed to rejoice in our sufferings -- from being hospitalized because of an illness, to going through a divorce, to be faced with a bankruptcy, to dealing with the death of a loved one, to losing a job -- we are supposed to rejoice in those sufferings? He didn't mean for us to go "Hip hip hooray! I've lost my job; my husband passed away; the creditors are taking my car!" No, no, no. Instead, he meant that suffering is a part of life. No matter how many times we complain that life is not fair, Paul wants us to know that suffering (a little rain) is the part of our lives that helps us grow to those hope-filled people of character and determination.

What Lynn Anderson's song doesn't tell us, and what Paul wanted so desperately for us to know, is that our God loves us so much that He promised never to leave us alone. Yes, the rain comes AND suffering comes, but with God, we'll receive patient endurance. And patience leads to character. And character leads to hope. And hope will not disappoint us. That's a mighty fine recipe for pulling us from the darkest of times, to the sunshiniest times EVER. That's when we'll be singing "I'm walking on sunshine (whoa oh)! And don't it feel good!"