Of Birds, Hope, and Ten-Year Landmarks: Why You Can Rejoice in the Storm

cardinal

I saw a date in the margin of my Bible this morning that made me start—2/26/04. It wasn’t just the date that took me by surprise, but the realization that it has been exactly ten years since that day.

I remember where I was when I wrote that date—on the top bunk in a guest room in Bowie, Texas.

I remember the verse I read just before I wrote that date. (I don’t actually have to remember that one—it’s right there in the margin of my Bible. But I remember it anyway.) Psalm 86:4, “Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.”

I remember what I did after I read that verse and wrote it in my journal. I stepped outside the guest house with a spiral notebook and sat on the back stoop to write an article for the magazine I was editing at the time. The article appeared in the June/July ’04 issue of Stepping in the Light, and it was titled “Sing, Little Bird!” The article provides some insight into that day:

There, I just spotted him, that is, the cardinal that has been filling the air with music. It is particularly interesting that he would be singing this morning, because a storm is approaching. The air is growing damp and humid; heavy, gray clouds are gathering above, and the wind is lifting the pages of my notebook.

Soon I will be forced back inside from my back step perch. Where will that redbird, so joyfully swaying in the wind, find shelter, I wonder? Surely he feels the brewing storm, yet none of this appears to concern him. He just goes right on singing his little heart out, and he does it all with a cheery face.

I admire that little bird. Sometimes I, too, without the help of a weatherman, can feel ominous, black storm clouds approaching. I feel the branch on which I’ve been resting beginning to sway. May I learn from Mr. Redbird how to respond.

Do you see the clouds moving closer? Can you feel the heaviness in the air? Are you hearing the wind pushing? Sing, little soul—sing out with all your heart. Sing of the joy that Christ in you, the Hope of glory, brings. And with an extra measure of God’s grace, sing with a cheerful countenance. God has promised that you will find shelter in the shadow of His wings.

The storm I foresaw did break. I packed up my notebook and sat in the kitchen while it unpacked its fury. My cardinal friend must have found shelter, because I saw him out again that afternoon.

The other storm broke too—the storm I had sensed brewing early that morning while I read my Bible on the bunk bed. It also unpacked its fury. But like my feathered friend, I, too, found shelter.

I remembered all of this—cardinal, storm, verse, and all—this morning as I saw the date in the margin of my Bible. Of course, I reflected on the past ten years.

Frankly, I don’t pretend to understand them. I wish I could tell you that the storm quickly subsided and that with the black clouds lifted I can clearly see a sparkling fresh landscape wrought by the rain. I can’t.

I wish I could tell you that ten years later I have clear perspective and see great blessings God has brought through the storm. I don’t.

Furthermore, I wish I could tell you that whatever storm clouds may be gathering in your life right now will surely blow over and leave nothing by blue skies and fresh flowers behind. I can’t know or promise that.

But I can tell you about a certain little bird who illustrated for me a certain verse. And I can tell you—from personal experience—that the verse he illustrated brings real hope: “Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.”

In the midst of a storm, we look for exits and long for relief. But God gives a grace that looks for God rather than exits and hopes in Him rather than in relief.

We can’t always objectively hope for a speedy end to the storm, but our God gives real hope—a hope that confidently lifts our soul to Him in prayer and asks, “Rejoice my soul, Lord, for I lift it to You.”

Long storms provide something short ones never do—patience. And patience works experience “and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:4–5).

So do storms always bring fresh flowers and clear perspectives? Not always—at least not always immediately. But they always allow for the growth of real hope.

Are you in a storm? Lift your troubled soul to the Lord in prayer, and confidently look to Him for hope. You’ll find in Him ample reasons to rejoice in the storm.

And real hope is something to sing about—even in the storm.

I know. And so does the cardinal.

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