Some trips are for business; others are for pleasure. This was neither. Having just come off a lengthy business trip that also included times of fun and relaxation, my wife and I landed at DFW early Thursday morning, only to leave Friday afternoon on a trip both of us wished was not necessary.
We learned during our week at the Beau Rivage Hotel & Casino in Biloxi that the father of one of my work associates and closest friends had come very near death and was in ICU on life support. It was nip and tuck for this 87-year-old warrior whose health had been failing for some time. It was also a time of high stress and uncertainty for his family. On Wednesday evening, I received a text from my friend Keith that his beloved father had passed peacefully in his sleep.
We would be flying Friday morning to Mobile, Alabama to be with our friends in their hour of need.
Under the weather…
It was overcast when we left the house in an Uber ride and even more gloomy when we boarded the plane. I sat next to the window, staring out at the thick, dark clouds above, watching the random teardrop of rain splatter on the window, thinking how the weather seemed to fit the occasion. Somber. Sad. Overcast. No sunshine. Not a single ray.
Weather, like music, can fit a mood…or set one. This weather seemed fitting. Somewhere in Mobile, a family we love was reeling with emotions, burdened with sorrow, facing the logistical nightmare of making arrangements to bury the remains of the fleshly house a wonderful father and husband once occupied.
The gray clouds fit.
Above the clouds…
After a few minutes of onboarding and after receiving the familiar safety instructions from the flight crew, we were taxiing down the runway, gathering speed, lifting off. The miracle of modern flight sent us soaring against the gathering late-afternoon darkness, into the ominous clouds. It was not long before we were in the clouds and all we could see through the little window was shades of gray. Then…
Suddenly and without warning, we burst through the top of those rain clouds into the brilliance of a sunlit sky. I do mean brilliance! The sun was shining as if there were no clouds, as if there was no threat of rain, as if there was no sorrow, sadness, or loss.
That moment, a truth epiphany brightened my whole day and changed my perspective entirely. That truth is this: the sun shines, even when it doesn’t.
What a metaphor, this moment of breaking through the clouds to see the sun. Even on an overcast, gloomy day, the sun is shining. Our ability to see it is determined by perspective. Are we under the weather or above the clouds? Are you staring at the circumstances or looking through the eyes of faith to the light of the eternal God?
I thought of Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
I have always thought of that verse in terms of understanding that no matter how dark the night, the sun will rise again. That is true. However, for the first time, I thought about the fact that, even then, in that moment of despair, in that dark hour of sorrow or need, the sun IS shining. Comfort is more than knowing that it will shine again. Comfort is knowing that It IS shining.
The darkness exists because of the way the earth has us positioned. It rotates on its axis, carrying us into the light of day and then whisking us away, into the darkness of night. The world may get between us and the sun on occasion, but the sun is always shining.
Above and beyond…
The morning will come. The sorrow will subside. Joy will return and hope will abide. Our circumstances are temporary and fleeting. His presence and His promises are forever.
Whether lowering the remains of a loved one into the earth or welcoming a newborn baby into our life, we rest in the promise of Jesus’ presence and goodwill. We know, as the Apostle Paul did, that “all things work together for the good of those who love God and are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). We know that “this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53-55). We know “whom we have believed” and we “are persuaded that HE is able to keep that which we have committed unto him” (which is everything) until that great and glorious day of His return.
We know that above our current circumstances and beyond our capability to see through the clouds that obscure our vision for a while, the sun still shines…even when it doesn’t.