If I could paint a Michigan winter, there would be plenty of gray in my palette. Much of the time we see very little sunlight, a consequence of living on a peninsula. Billowy snowdrifts, tall pines decked out in layers of white, lakes glazed with ice—these become incredibly beautiful on a rare sunny day in the middle of winter.

Sometimes our spiritual lives seem to be painted with a palette of gray as well. Nothing moves us. Nothing excites us. Everything seems bland and colorless. There are no discoveries, no words from God, no sense of his presence. Like the sun in winter, God seems to be hiding behind impenetrable clouds. On our worst days, the clouds turn from shades of grey to thick black, and we begin to wonder if God still cares for us or even knows what we are going through.

Though we may dislike them, clouds are necessary. They have a purpose. We’re grateful for snow that replenishes the groundwater and for spring rains that refresh the earth.

Spiritual clouds also have their purpose. Oswald Chambers says this about clouds: “It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials. Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child. . . . Until we come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.” 1

What do you need to unlearn about God today? That he won’t help you find a way out of your present difficulty? That he is fickle—here today and gone tomorrow? That he will abandon you when life gets tough or when you make a mistake? That he didn’t mean it when he said he was your Father? Whatever untruths your heart is harboring, ask God to use the cloudy seasons in your life to simplify your relationship with him so your view of him as your loving Father becomes stronger. 

1 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, ed. James Reimann, updated edition (Grand Rapids, MI: RBC Ministries, 1935, 1992), July 29 devotional.


(Image courtesy of waitscm at flickr.com.)





Originally published April 08, 2013.