Several years ago when we lived in Alabama, a system of strong thunderstorms bearing high winds, brilliant flashes of lightning, and deafening claps of thunder rolled through our area one Saturday afternoon.  I had spent the morning playing with the children and helping Kim around the house, but after lunch I settled in at the kitchen table to review my notes for Sunday’s sermons and my Bible class.  However, I soon found myself distracted from my studies by the strength of the storm.  It had been “looking like rain” all day, and it finally arrived in sheets and waves.  I have always enjoyed watching storms brew, build, and ultimately unleash their contents.  I guess I get that trait genetically, because I remember both of my grandfathers, as well as my father, frequently stepping outside to “see what the weather was doing.”  That afternoon in Alabama, the fierce winds blew the treetops back and forth like blades of grass, and at times it appeared as if it was raining horizontally, with the rain being driven parallel to the ground.  After the worst of the storm had passed, a steady shower set in, accompanied by gradually decreasing rumblings of thunder.

As my interest in the storm subsided, I returned to my Bible and notes at the kitchen table and continued to fine tune Sunday’s lessons.  After some length of time I glanced out of the bay window that opened to the west and was treated to a beautiful sight.  Though a light rain was still falling in the immediate area, the western sky had come alive with deep hues of purple and red.  The storm had lifted on the horizon, and the colors of the setting sun provided a striking contrast with the dreary, gray clouds that remained overhead.  It was a clear, unmistakable sign that beyond the present gloom there was a promise of fairer skies.

Life is filled with storms and trials.  They can be physical storms involving illness, disease, or disability.  They can be spiritual storms centered around temptation and sin or struggles with doubt.  Some of life’s storms are emotional in nature in which we can be besieged by frustration, anger, depression, or discouragement.  Many people are experiencing financial storms right now as a result of the current economic climate in our nation. 

Any and all of these storms can burst unexpectedly into our lives, raging and blowing and threatening to unsettle our hearts and our faith.  Jesus taught us to expect as much.  Our Savior never pulled any punches when describing life, especially the life of discipleship.   He never painted an unrealistically rosy picture of this world.  He was shooting straight with us when He said, “In the world you have tribulation.”  However, in the very next breath He offered the hope and strength that enable us to weather the storm.  “But take courage,” He said, “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The apostle Paul was granted a glimpse beyond life’s struggles and hardships, of which he had suffered more than his fair share.  He was caught up to the third heaven, into Paradise, where he heard inexpressible words (II Corinthians 12:1-4).  Whether this happened bodily or in some sort of out-of-body experience Paul wasn’t sure.  But he did know that, at least for a brief time, the veil of this world was drawn back so that He could see beyond the trials, tribulations, and struggles of our present existence.  It is for this reason that Paul could write with confidence, accuracy, and authority that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

When you find yourself feeling battered and bruised by life’s storms and surrounded by the darkness and dreariness of this world, raise your eyes and look to the Horizon.  The clouds will lift, the storm will pass, and Eternity awaits.