"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." -- Psalm 19:1
Clouds get a bum rap most days, especially when they signal the possibility of an untimely rain shower or hide the sun at the beach. In the spring, they might be the sign of an approaching thunderstorm, perhaps even a line of severe weather. In winter, they seem never to go away, only adding to the seasonal affective disorder that leave many of us feeling, well...sad.
People often describe their lives in terms of weather conditions. When asked, "How are you?", they might respond, "fair to partly cloudy" or tell you how "stormy" their life is. A person's life that is characterized as anything less than sunny is quite often filled with trouble, hardship, and heartache. Sometimes we even describe a person's disposition as "sunny" or his mood as "angry as a thunderstorm."
Personally, I love clouds! Have you ever noticed how the backdrop of clouds on a fall day somehow enhances the color of the leaves? Although most of us prefer sunshine, God often uses clouds to wow us with his technicolor creation. Without clouds we'd have no rainbows, nor rain to grow the food that sustains us and the flowers that delight us with their beauty and fragrance. Sunsets would be ordinarily beautiful rather than stunning and brilliant, as they are when clouds are present late in the day.
What if we considered our troubles in life to be nothing more than the clouds God has sent to make us appreciate his goodness? Think about it. Without the presence of sorrow we cannot fully appreciate the joy that comes from our relationship with God. Without suffering financial hardship at some point in our lives, how can we fully appreciate God's provision or the sheer joy of being able to give to others who are faced with the same kinds of financial challenges that once made life so difficult for us? Just as God uses stormy weather to nourish the earth, strengthen the mighty oak tree, and refresh his creation, he uses adversity in our lives to strengthen us spiritually and make us more like him. And there is none so beautiful as the Lord of hosts!
One day there will be clouds on the horizon unlike any we have ever seen. "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).