"Look for the silver lining," advises an old song, adding, "There's a silver lining behind every cloud you see."
One struggling sufferer said if all clouds are supposed to have silver linings some of his clouds must be defective.
Is there really a reason to expect good things to develop out of our trials?
While writing his best-selling book, "Strength of Soul," Phillip Keller became so convinced that positive things can develop out of negative situations that he wrote: "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."
According to Keller, who suffered more than his share of dark clouds, this search calls for a certain degree of self-discipline in which a deliberate decision is made to look for life's silver edge. He says it entails cultivating a close personal communion with Christ on the path of life and demands a calm, sure faith of quiet repose in our Father's care, causing fresh hope to spring up within the sufferer's soul.
In other words, the silver lining is produced by the sun shining on the dark 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 Olson 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 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 in order to stay home and care for his family.
Broken dreams are often hard to handle and Enoch was deeply disappointed with this turn of events. He couldn't understand why his father had become ill and chafed under this intrusion on his vision of a future in conservation. But there's more to this 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 establish a family camp covering hundreds of acres and containing streams, lakes and flourishing forests; a conservation wonderland with a higher purpose than he had originally imagined.
There was a silver lining to Olson's clouds, even though it was almost invisible at first sight. To quote Keller again: "Searching for the silver lining, 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, broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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