As many of you know, despite the abundant rain this last winter in NoCal, the drought continues in SoCal. A friend and former fellow teacher, Leilani Smith, started an interesting Facebook dialogue a week ago that revealed a truth of growing in Christ, right at the end. She posted a series of pics taken on a hike she took, including the one above, and this conversation ensued.
Leilani: So much sculpture on the trail this morning!
Me (as one who tries to see a spiritual hook in everything): The quality of the art reveals much about the artist, does it not?
Leilani (as a scientist and lover of beauty): It does indeed. Despite the drought, there is beauty to be found.
Me (after a thoughtful pause): And sometimes hard times show the beauty that otherwise is hidden.
As much as I love nature and seek its beauty, I don’t know I would have noticed the link to the drought. But it has dried out much of the trees and brush that otherwise might be green, and we’re already well ahead of normal on wildfires. But. In all of the problems, sometimes beauty emerges. The contrast of colors, the shorter grasses, just a different perspective on the same scene.
Perhaps that’s part of the reason Paul tells us to always rejoice (Philippians 4:4). This passage doesn’t link rejoicing to trials and hard times, which others do. Just rejoice. Always. Even in drought. I suspect the reason is found a few verses later, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (verses 8-9).
Let’s go back to the oaks and the drought. Do we look at the barrenness, the risk of fire, the lack of a running stream? If we do, we find it more difficult to rejoice as we focus on the negative. But if our mindset is to rejoice and that causes us to focus on the good and positive aspects of life, then we see the beauty in hard times and find our rejoicing is easier. That added joy then makes it easier to see more beauty, and the circle continues. Of course we don’t ignore negative reality, but we don’t major on the bad, but on the beauty. And, twice in those six verses, when we set our minds on rejoicing and look for the beauty in life, Paul tells us that God’s peace will be with us.
Think about our world today. Could we use more peace? Then maybe we can look beyond the metaphorical drought and discover the hidden beauty.
Kick Starting the Application
Do you tend to look at events positively or negatively? Why? Which best matches Philippians 4:4-9? On a very personal and practical level, how can you increase the joy and peace in your life? Will you start this week?