Of Dark Clouds and Silver Linings

Silver lining: A term to emphasize the hopeful side of a situation that might seem gloomy on the surface.
I don’t need to write about the contagious virus situation in our state, country, and world; you’ve likely read, seen, and heard a great deal about that. But I am a person who needs to “look at the bright side” and remember that “every cloud has a silver lining.” It’s not some special, noteworthy quality I have; it’s just the way I’m wired. I know that even the worst events or situations have some positive aspect to them, and it helps me to navigate this crazy life.
Dark cloud: My son’s college year came to an abrupt end, meaning that he missed out on his spring break trip and, instead, needed to pack up and move off campus very quickly, while my wife and I made rapid, almost immediate plans for me to fly to Phoenix and drive back to Spokane with my boy.
Silver lining: I had 48 hours of quality time with my favorite young man in the world. We ate (too much), and laughed, and had some great conversations, and drove, and drove, and drove…. I’m not sure it gets much better than the adult relationship you have with a child you’ve raised.
Dark cloud: My older daughter’s senior year of school, track and field, and potentially even prom and graduation, are on hold and in danger of being canceled altogether.
Silver lining: She gets to continue her senior year through online classes, which means she will graduate and finish high school. She’s also completing regular workouts to stay in shape in case her track and field season resumes. She’s adapting and persevering and learning to make the best of a tough situation.
Dark cloud: My younger daughter’s basketball season ended almost before it began. She was the best player on her team and was finally excited about the sport again after a very difficult experience last spring and summer.
Silver lining: Even as I write this, at this very moment, she’s outside playing basketball with her big brother, who’s at home when he normally wouldn’t be. Her brother is her hero; if she had to choose between playing ball with her brother or her school team, she would pick her brother every single time (not that she doesn’t love her teammates at school, but c’mon, it’s her big bro)!
The above examples are not nearly all of the dark clouds hanging over my kids, but neither are they anywhere close to all of the silver linings that give them hope and help them experience something positive during troubled times. Is there a spiritual lesson in all of this? I believe there is. In what might be the most “silver lining” passage in the Bible (at least that I can recall), James writes this:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4, ESV)
Notice that we are to count it all joy when we meet trials, meaning that the trials are not inherently joyful; in fact, they are typically quite the opposite. You could even call them dark clouds. But although trials are extremely challenging, we are to count them as joy, as silver linings, because they test our faith and lead us to be stronger and more firmly established in our faith.
Troy Burns