I was out for a run one day and asking God what He wanted to say to me….what had I been to busy to listen to?  I really tried to quiet myself before Him and just listen.  My head started to fill with all that was wrong in my life and all the suffering I had been through…….so much for listening!  I knew He was prompting me to dig into Him and to start praising Him no matter what road I was walking.   At one point I ran a ministry for single moms and women walking through divorce.  I have stepped back due to the fact that I have a young family and my time is very limited.  I still meet with many of these women one on one.  Ellen is one of those women. She has faced some extreme suffering in her life.  She had written a devotion on this very topic.  As I was ready to write my blog I kept going back to what she had written.  I asked her permission to use it, because I couldn’t have said it better….Enjoy.  -K

“1 Peter 1:6-7: In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Last month we had quite a large amount of rainfall.  One of those mornings I awoke to a loud, crashing thunderstorm in the wee hours of the morning.  I unsuccessfully tried to fall back asleep as the thunder seemed to shake the very foundation of my house.  As I laid there in my bed, I started to hear the sound of one bird cheerfully singing.  I thought, “Ah give it 10 min., as soon as the rain and thunder pick up, that bird’s voice will die out.”  Amazingly, the sound of the loud storm did not stop the bird from chirping.  Instead, it’s voice seemed to crescendo along with the increasing forcefulness of the storm.

I thought to myself about the storms and trials I face in life.  Do I approach them with rejoicing and praising God in the midst of them or do I call all my girlfriends and the prayer team, weep loudly, lament, and shake my fist to God (essentially do everything BUT praise Him)?  I’m afraid to admit that I tend to do more of the latter than the former.

Of course, it defies basic human nature to want to praise God in the midst of hardship, and I believe it takes a real discipline on our part.  If we saw our trials as more of a badge of honor bestowed upon us by God rather than a long, arduous endurance test I think we might be more apt to praise Him with whatever comes our way.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not easy and again, I am the first to admit that I need work in this area.

I recently read a passage from the “Streams in the Desert” devotional book.  This writing speaks of  lichens and how the ones that face the fiercest storms are usually the most brilliantly colored.  I want to challenge you with this today.  Whatever storm you are facing, and though it might look impossible at the moment, try to think of God as shaping you into a brilliant lichen full of form and character  rather than a dull, underdeveloped plant that lives in the security of shelter.  As I keep this in mind, it makes it easier for me to praise and rejoice in the Lord regardless of what circumstance I am currently facing:

It is a remarkable occurrence of nature that the most brilliant colors of plants are found on the highest mountains, in places that are the most exposed to the fiercest weather.  The brightest lichens and mosses, as well as the most beautiful wildflowers, abound high upon the windswept, storm-ravaged peaks.

One of the finest arrays of living color I have ever seen was just above the great Saint Bernard Hospice near the ten-thousand-foot summit of Mont Cenis in the French Alps.  The entire face of one expansive rock was covered with a strikingly vivid yellow lichen, which shone in the sunshine like a golden wall protecting an enchanted castle.  Amid the loneliness and barrenness of that high altitude and exposed to the fiercest winds of the sky, this lichen exhibited glorious color it has never displayed in the shelter of the valley.

As I write these words, I have two specimens of the same type of lichen before me.  One is from this Saint Bernard area, and the other is from the wall of a Scottish castle, which is surrounded by sycamore trees.  The difference in their form and coloring is quite striking.  The one grown amid the fierce storms of the mountain peak has a lovely yellow color of a primrose, a smooth texture, and a definite form and shape.  But the one cultivated amid the warm air and the soft showers of the lowland valley has a dull, rusty color, a rough texture, and an indistinct and broken shape.

Isn’t it the same with a Christian who is afflicted, storm-tossed, and without comfort?  Until the storms and difficulties allowed by God’s providence beat upon a believer again and again, his character appears flawed and blurred.  Yet the trials actually clear away the clouds and shadows, perfect the form of his character, and bestow brightness and blessing to his life.

Amidst my list of blessings infinte
Stands this the foremost, that my heart has bled;
For all I bless You, most for the severe.

-Hugh Macmillian

-Katie Schmidt
Jeremiah 29:11