Sunday, August 13, 2023

How will you turn out in the tough times?

All photos used by permission of Unsplash

In the world of nature, we only really find out whether a tree is evergreen when the season turns to winter.  Throughout all the other seasons, to the untrained eye, it can be hard to tell the difference between those trees that will eventually shed their leaves and those that will keep them. Yet once the sun fails to climb quite as high in the sky and the temperature drops, the truth begins to emerge. When winter sets in, it soon becomes clear which trees have kept hold of their leaves and which have not.

And so it is, too, with us. Perhaps we do not really know what we are made of until we encounter a little winter in our lives. When things are at their toughest, when life feels at its most frail, that is when we really find out what kind of people we are. Can we remain evergreen and still able to keep singing in the deep dark of winter? 

Anyone can sing during the daytime, when life is all brightness and at ease. When there is peace and prosperity, when the people we love are healthy and the plans we have are all looking good, it is not so hard to raise a hand and utter a thank-you. But can we still smile and be happy when the sun goes down? Can we offer up a “song in the night?” That is a phrase that comes up several times in the Bible. The book of Job talks about the God who gives “songs in the night.”

We can see this in action in the story of Paul and Silas in the Bible. There they were in jail; it was midnight. Their hands and feet were bound in stocks, having been treated unfairly. In the darkness of that prison most of our hearts would perhaps give way to fear, discouragement or dejection. But not Paul and Silas. Their bodies might have been chained up, but their spirits were free. And what were they doing? Singing! From their lips came songs of worship, praise and trust – “songs in the night” - and those songs became their sound track for a miraculous release from prison. 

Then there is Jesus at the end of the Last Supper. As He celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples, we are told that they sang a final hymn. Imagine Jesus standing there. His final hours already counting down, and He adds His voice to the others as they sing. In full knowledge of what was soon to come on the cross, Jesus chose to sing with His disciples a song of goodness and love – a “song in the night.”

Can we somehow do the same, when darkness creeps up on our own lives? Can we keep singing even when it grows so gloomy that we can barely see our hand in front of our face? Can we find within ourselves a “song in the night” that does not depend on our present circumstances but is fuelled by an unfading love in the Name of God? Can we still believe that there is more of our story to be written and know deep down that whatever we are facing right now, God is willing to take us by the hand and in His great love be very much in control?

Used by permission of Your542Day Written by Peter Francis for Messages with Meaning (01/12/20)


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