The mountains that rise to the west of Camp Zama, Japan are a source of inspiration—and of weather information. One glance at them in the morning and I can immediately tell if skies will be hazy with higher humidity or if the skies will offer fantastic visibility with low humidity. It all depends on how faded or bold they appear.
During my morning mountain inspections, I’ve noticed something else: the mountains always appear their clearest on the morning after a storm. It’s as if the rain or snow of the previous day washed the air clean of haze and pollutants.
This reminded me of something a famous nineteenth century clergyman, Henry Ward Beecher, once said: “Adversity, if for no other reason, is of benefit, since it is sure to bring a season of sober reflection. Men are clearer at such times. Storms purify the atmosphere.”
How interesting. As storms purify the air and increase visibility, so our adversities help us to see better and bring about times of sober reflection. And he was right. Just think of how much clearer Peter saw himself after his “storm”—when he was tempted to deny his Master, Jesus. Before the test, the swaggering Peter refused to believe Jesus’ prediction of his denial, but proclaimed, “Even if all fall away, I never will,” and “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you” (Matt. 26:33, 35). Yet after his ordeal and failure, he wept bitterly and responded to Jesus, “Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you” (John 21:17).
Peter’s adversity became a reality check to him. His test opened his eyes to his own weaknesses. His trials cleared the air clouded with pride and self-confidence. He saw himself clearer than ever before and now he understood how he must trust Christ more and himself less.
Adversity does that to us. It removes the murkiness from our vision. It helps us to see ourselves and God more clearly. Adversity helps us to see the things in life that matter most and inspires us to pursue nobler goals.
Dear Father in heaven, open my eyes that I may see—even if it requires some adversity and trials. As Jesus sent the blind man to wash the mud from his eyes so that he returned with his sight, so wash my eyes clean that I too may see. Amen.
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