Despite the Dark Cloud


I sat on the beach the first full morning of vacation. It wasn’t as warm as I expected. In fact, it was cloudy, windy, borderline chilly (although it would have seemed balmy, even steamy, if I had been home in central Illinois). Despite the feel, it was beautiful. I was able to sit outside, bare feet in the sand, no coat. The waves lapped the shoreline. The trees gently rustled. The birds chirped. The sun intermittently shined despite the looming cloud.

I had a choice. I could focus on the dark cloud and chilly breeze or the sunshine and warmth. It’s a choice I have to make every day…multiple times every day. I can focus on the inconveniences or blessings. My choice doesn’t mean I ignore reality. A cloud can hang, but it’s not the only thing in the sky.

I looked at the cloud and felt the chill, then I changed my focus. I felt warmth. I saw a peek of sun. I thought of someone close to me who chooses to look at the sun every day despite the looming cloud. It’s a dark, depressing cloud, but the sun peeks through. Even when it doesn’t, the sun is still there. It doesn’t go away.

What dark cloud is looming over you? Keep it in the context of the entire sky. Do you know someone with a dark cloud in his or her life? Acknowledge it but don’t focus on it. Talk about other things, too. A dark cloud doesn’t define his or her life…or yours.

Soak up the peeks of sun, listen to the waves, see the big picture. The sky is vast. So are the possibilities, not just for tomorrow but for right now.


I love God’s timing. (Well, most of the time. Sometimes I whine a bit about it.) When I sat down on the airport shuttle bus, I heard the lyrics of a song reach into my soul:

You are beautiful. You are blessed.

You were made for so much more than this.

Simple words. I could have heard them any other day and they wouldn’t have seeped as deeply as that moment. I didn’t realize how badly I needed to hear them. They fed me, nourished me.

Feelings are fleeting, and I imagine my outlook would have changed eventually without hearing the song, but hearing those words at that time was no mistake. It was just the encouragement I needed to take a breath, let a couple tears fall down my cheeks, smile at the concerned man across from me to assure him I was okay, and let a peace wash over me in preparation for whatever emotional highs and lows I’d face in the coming hours.

My thoughts quickly turned to responses friends recently posted on Facebook when I asked “What do you struggle with the most through the Christmas season?” The responses broke my heart. A woman facing the first Christmas without a close family member. The ache of several Christmases without family members. Unfulfilled hopes. The agonizing wait for prayers to be answered. Haunting memories. Loneliness. Emptiness.

I sat on the shuttle as some of the comments and women’s faces who posted them flashed through my mind. I wanted to hold each of their faces in my hands, look them in the eyes, and say…

You are beautiful. You are blessed.

You were made for so much more than this.

Words of truth might not take the pain away. Circumstances might not change. But there is a hope and encouragement in the truth of the words.

I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but God wants you to know…

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (Amplified Bible)

We know that all things work together  for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

God loves you, my friend. You are beautiful. You are blessed. You were made for so much more than this.