Catawba Mountains

Catawba Mountains

I’ve seen clouds hanging low in the mountains, caught by trees on the slopes, resting in the valleys.  You touch what eyes see when you walk through them; cool, white mist, carrying the scent of pine.  Earth mixed with sky.

Sometimes, though, low clouds are dark, oppressive, thick with storm.  Sadness can be like that.

Living through the deaths of four people within my circle in nine months took a toll on me. Mixed in with other challenges and discouragements,  I felt overwhelmed.  There were times I went for a run, needing peace and coming back, instead, with a heavy heart, tears on my face, missing my mom.  In a way, that was a release, but not the one I sought.

The grief that I’d taught lessons on before was real to me in a new, deep and complex way.  The loss of my mom, mother-in-law, a friend and the tragic death of a young woman who used to  come to my Bible classes, felt like a dense, dark  cloud, pressing against me.

 Shrouded by storm

Shrouded by storm

I grieved for myself, my children and husband, other family members and people hurt by these losses; all confusingly caught up in the context of knowing God is fully in control and that the spirits of those I loved were with Him.

I felt frustrated with  myself for feeling such sadness when I knew I should be able to embrace the joy that’s wrapped up in eternity and knowing earthly trials are temporary. Yet, the grief and loss were pervasive.

I’ve struggled with so many emotions and thoughts these last months.  I’ve prayed that God would lift the clouds and return the sunlight.  I cried out to Him in frustration with the sadness I couldn’t shake on an early morning run, two months ago.  It wasn’t the first time; but it was  His time for an answer.

He brought to my mind Ecclesiastes, chapter three.  I’ve included those verses in lessons before, and spoken about the seasons of life, but God’s words became real to me in a new and active way.

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven:”  

– Ecclesiastes 3:1

As I ran through the humidity, present even before the sun was high, God opened my eyes to see that the heat of summer remains until He brings the crispness of Fall.  No amount of wishing for the cool, clean air of autumn will bring it before its time.  There is nothing anyone can do to change the seasons in the natural world around us.  In the same way, the seasons of life; “a time to weep and a  time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) are all in His hand.

Before my feet came to a stop that morning, I had puzzled the whole thing through. It became real to me that God was in control of my season of grief, and that He would use it for His purposes.  I could rest in His hand if I didn’t strain to slip through His fingers.  His choice, so far, hadn’t been to lift me out of the sadness, but instead, to walk with me through it.  His promise was not to enable  my escape, but to teach me it was a season, not a forever, and that, in Him and His wisdom, I could find peace, despite  circumstance.

Block Island rests in the Atlantic, offshore Rhode Island.  Bluffs of clay and rock rise up from the ocean, rugged stretches that invite exploration.  Most of the  beaches there aren’t made of soft, white sand that feel like powder under your feet.  They are, instead, marked with boulders, rugged slopes and piles of rock.

Mohegan Bluffs, Block Island

Mohegan Bluffs, Block Island

The rocks that  rest above the tides have jagged edges and irregular sides, but the ones that fall where the waves beat and jostle them about are rounded and smooth, elegantly beautiful, roughness worn away by storms and tides whose number only God knows.

The place where the shore meets the ocean whispers with music: rock and water, a symphony of refinement,  directed by the hand of the Creator.  It’s been said that I’m not able  to sit still for any length of time, but I could rest there all day and listen to the rocks tumbling together in the hands of the tide.

Block Island rocks worn smooth by the hands of the tide.

Block Island rocks; jagged edges worn away by countless tides and storms

Grief is achingly real. Losing people you love is painful.  Watching people grieve and knowing their burden is heart breaking. But the greatness of God is real, too.  He allows seasons of sadness to come in our lives for purposes we cannot always understand. The seasons that are the hardest to walk through are often the ones that bring about the most elegance of spirit and the hauntingly beautiful music that proclaims His beauty.  The symphony happens when we  His speak His goodness,  see His Sovereignty, acknowledge His timing, and rest in His hand, trusting Him in and through it all.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God He is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.”                                                          – Psalm 62: 5-8


  1. How I miss your lessons that are so articulate and applicable to my everyday life! You truly have a gift from God in your teaching! I am so proud of you and all you have accomplished!

    • Katie, Thank you! I miss teaching you, but I am so glad that you are now providing inspiring Bible lessons. God allowed me to have a ripple effect on you and others in the Lighthouse Class; I am so thankful for that and for the good work He continues to do in that body of Believers!

  2. Janey you have such a beautiful gift for creating visual images through your words and tying them so simply to God’s truths. Reading this I could feel the weight of that summer humidity just as surely as I could feel the burden of your sadness and grief, but then I could also feel the peace and tranquility of the water washing away the roughness from those rocks. I pray that your days of struggle are short and that you are soon again surrounded in the peace found along that northern Atlantic shore. Until then continue to know that God is sitting with you in your meditative moments, walking beside you as make your way through each day, reaching for your hand when the path gets steep, and carrying you when you think you can’t take another step. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    • Paula, thank you for your comments, thoughts and prayers! God has blessed me in so many ways. I know my gift with words is from Him, so He alone deserves the compliment! The Lord has flooded me with peace over the last few days…so your prayers for me have been answered! It seems that when I finally recognize what He is trying to teach me, the peace and rest follows. I have noticed that truth on more than one occasion! May God bless you with wisdom, patience and peace as you travel along the journey He is walking with you.

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