Forests, Valleys, Mountains, Rain, and Sunshine

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful, Colossians 3: 15.
Twenty years ago today, I married my best friend. Only then we weren’t quite best friends yet.
God had brought us both through nasty forests before we could be together. But once we married, life was not all sunshine. There were mountains to climb and valleys to endure. Sometimes life rained trials.
Joy comes with the sunshine. But marriage is hard work. It isn’t the days of sunshine that keep people together. It’s enduring the climbs, the low points, and the rain together.
We were impressed by the number of climbs we faced in one year alone. Our house was damaged with our own personal flood. While we were out one evening, more than 500 gallons of water flowed through our faulty washing machine from the upstairs bathroom. We came home to steaming rain in the living room.
It took years to get the house back to normal–better than normal because what came after was better than what was there before.
That trial accompanied the illness of one of my sons. And the valley of his illness preceded my own major surgery followed by a life threatening, and for a time life altering, medical emergency. Later that same year, my husband’s heart disease became apparent.
We marveled at so many trials one upon the other. But something happened in the hills, descents, and storms. Threads binding hearts together grew stronger. Memories. Moments. Pain. Fear. But laughter. Love. Joy. Not just for us as a couple, but for those around us too.
Through the trials and the triumphs came increased opportunities to receive ministry and to give it. There was increased understanding about how to encourage others. There was increased understanding of God, His love, and His tremendous faithfulness to us.
We have not arrived in any kind of utopia. Other mountains, valleys, and storms await. Life cannot help but bring them.
But, ah, the sunshine.
To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified, Isaiah 61: 3.

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