A FORECAST OF HOPE
Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest know a little something about rain! While it doesn’t rain here nearly as much as some folks around the country may think, it’s not an unusual experience to have multiple days of rain in our local weather forecast. This has been one of THOSE weeks! I don’t know if it qualifies for the “cats and dogs” analogy, but the downpours this week certainly seem to fit the category of “coming down in buckets”. No matter how you describe it, it’s been a very dark, gloomy and wet week!
Perhaps that’s why I was so shocked by the bright sunshine early this morning! After such a dreary week it seemed somewhat misplaced. I’m sure it wasn’t shining any brighter than normal, but it certainly appeared to be so since we hadn’t really seen it this week! Now, just two hours later, it’s once again covered by a dense layer of gray clouds promising another damp day for the soggy citizens of the greater Portland metro area. (Heavy sigh!).
It was that temporary appearance of the bright sunshine that sparked my thoughts this morning. Though it lasted only for a few brief moments, it was a needed reminder that behind the dark , cloudy skies the sun is always shining. Sometimes when we are in the midst of the latest downpour, in a seemingly endless series of storms, it’s hard to remember that. When we are dodging raindrops and puddles moving from our home, to our cars, then to the office or the store, it’s hard to believe that the sun is shining behind those menacing clouds. Yes, in our minds we know it’s there, but trying to convince our hearts that this is true when we’re wringing out our coat for the third time today is next to impossible. Of course, in the Pacific Northwest most people wouldn’t think of giving in to the temptation of using an umbrella, so that certainly doesn’t help! It’s a cultural thing….”….a little rain never hurt anyone”.
Being a weatherman on a TV station here during Spring is probably just like being a weatherman in San Diego most of the year. The high and low temperatures usually start with same first digit and the forecast always includes their best guess at how much precipitation we will get. It’s the same thing in San Diego, absent the rain forecast – they get morning and evening fog instead. Their temperatures are warmer, but the actual forecast is fairly routine.
Whether you’re forecasting just another day in paradise in San Diego, or another day in the rain-drenched Pacific Northwest, the goal of any weatherman is to look ahead. That’s why they actually call it a “forecast”. Granted, much of the time they seem to get the forecast wrong, but they’re trying. Mother Nature is certainly unpredictable and doesn’t like to cooperate with your local weatherman. But to the best of their abilities these gluttons for ridicule from the general public try to figure out and inform us what the next few days and weeks will look like so we can make our own plans. Sometimes they even get it right!!
I haven’t written a blog post for the past several weeks because my outlook on life has felt very much like the weather lately. There’s nothing truly wrong, but it seems I’m going through a stage in life where nothing seems to be really right! There’s been a restlessness in my soul about who I am, the quality of my relationships with others, where my career has taken me, and what I have, or have not, accomplished. I’ve had the privilege of doing some amazing things over the years, and I truly am grateful for all I’ve been able to see and do. But it seems lately that so much of what I thought I had done, the person I had been, and the impact I had made has left me feeling like my poor little dog when he gets caught in the rain during his nightly walk around our neighborhood…….a bit shaken, scraggly and sad. It’s certainly not what I had expected at this stage of my life. I’ve been through of my share of storms in the past, but the last few months have seemed somewhat like the weather in Portland in the early spring — currently dreary but hopefully with a forecast of better days ahead.
Each day I get an email from an organization called “Inspiring Quotes”. I couldn’t help but print off one I received last week and ponder it over the last few days.
“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
I know Dolly Parton isn’t a theologian, but I also know she has a very real faith in God! I’m not necessarily a fan of her music, but I do respect her courage to speak up on matters of the heart and challenges of living as a Christian in a secular society.
The fact is, we’re all going to have to walk through some pretty uncomfortable storms in our lives. The dark and dreary days are going to happen and leave us feeling like we’re soaked to the skin with discouragement. The situations are real, and the problems just won’t go away simply because we recognize them. But whatever storms are confronting us, we still have to get up, put one foot in front of the other, bundle up our hearts as best as we can, and face the onslaught until the proverbial weather clears. I’m not saying we are going to like going through it, but that doesn’t change the need for us to do just that!
Though the symbolism of the rainbow has been greatly altered by our current culture, I still cling to the biblical account of the promise God made to Noah after the flood. God said,
“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” (Genesis 9:13).
Every time I see a rainbow I’m reminded that the God who made this covenant with Noah is the same God that made a covenant with me. I may get tired of the rainy day of my life, and get discouraged by way things have or have not worked out as I had hoped. But I know such seasons will come and go, much like the rainy days of Spring here in the Northwest (or even the sunny days of sunshine in San Diego — which I actually grew tired of at times when I lived there). Life isn’t about the proverbial weather of whatever we are going through; it’s about what the forecast calls in the future. The bleakest day is made brighter simply by the prospect of the sunny days that lie ahead. That’s the hope we all have for the future!!
I’m not particularly enjoying the rainy season I’m in right now. The circumstances of life and unfulfilled hopes have colored my outlook on my current situation. But I still believe in brighter days ahead! Why? Because it may be raining now, but there’s a forecast of HOPE!