PURPOSE IN OUR PAIN
Today I was driving down Old Fort Mountain on I-40 when Terry Hollifield, our Associate Pastor, called attention to the brilliant fall colors. It seems that God took His palette and loaded His brush with scarlet, orange and gold, using the mountainsides as a canvas--a masterpiece by the Master!
Autumn in Western North Carolina is like that, and tourists clog the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the show. This year they have witnessed one of the best. The colors have been breathtakingly brilliant and have endured long beyond the typical leaf-looking season. In most years they are already brown and mostly cluttering the forest floor by now.
But not this year. Do you know why? The trauma of the trees! The drought has been unparalleled and the harsh environment has given birth to the vibrant and sustained beauty.
So it is with the beauty of holiness. It can only be produced through the barren times and severe climate of affliction. To exceed mediocrity we must be rooted in the soil of adversity and raise our hands joyfully to God, like branches, reaching up into the sun of difficulty. The result is a saint that captures the attention of those rushing by.
None of us like pain--but there is a purpose in our pain. The Message paraphrases James 1:2-3 so powerfully in this context, "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors." Beautiful colors, indeed!