Look for the silver lining, says an old song, adding, "There's a silver lining behind every cloud you see." Is this true?
One struggling sufferer said if all clouds are supposed to have silver linings some of his clouds must be defective.
Is there really any reason to expect good things to develop out of trials?
Best-selling author, Phillip Keller, thinks so. In his book, "Strength of Soul," he says: "There is a silver edge to life! The tapestry of our lives is embroidered with blessings. All is not dark. Our part is to search for the silver lining."
How can we be successful in this search?
According to Keller, who has had more than his share of dark clouds, "It calls for a certain degree of self-discipline in which a deliberate decision is made to look for life's silver edge. It entails cultivating a close personal communion with Christ Himself on the path of life. It demands a calm, sure faith of quiet repose in our Father's care, whereby fresh hope springs up within the soul."
In other words, the silver lining comes from the sun shining on the clouds from above. And discovering the silver lining depends on how high we look.
In a time of trouble, the Psalmist said he would lift up his eyes to the hills from where his help would come, but then explained the source of his help was higher than the hills: "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1-2).
Faith brings a divine dimension to our difficulties. In every problem faith sees an opportunity for God to show His love and develop us into what He wants us to be.
When Enoch was a senior in high school, he received a scholarship to attend Michigan State University where he planned to study conservation. He dreamed of spending his life tending streams, lakes and forests. Then one day dark clouds rolled in.
Enoch's father was stricken with tuberculosis and was told he would have to be treated in a sanatorium for an extended period of time. This meant the would-be conservationist must cancel his college plans to stay home and help his family.
Broken dreams are often hard to handle and Enoch was deeply disappointed with this turn of events.
But there's more to the story.
While rising to the needs of his family during his father's illness, Enoch made a life changing decision. After his father's recovery, he would enter the ministry. This ultimately led him to found a family camp that covers hundreds of acres and contains many streams, lakes and forests, enabling him to minister to thousands of youth and adults over the years in his conservation wonderland.
There was a silver lining to each of Enoch's clouds even though it was hard to detect when they first rolled in. God was at work in the darkness to bring about the fulfillment of his dream in a way that would work for the benefit of others.
To quote Keller again: "Searching for the silver linings, more often than not, entails searching our own souls. It is the capacity, the ability to actually look for the hand of God in all the events of life, be they good or evil, that enables us to find the silver edge."
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years.