There were many things I loved about growing up in the San Joaquin Valley of California, among them the view of the mountains from the valley floor. Especially when covered in snow. 

But as I got older the view began to change.

The air became polluted, creating a haze that limited the view, and ultimately became so great the mountains were no longer visible. They were still there of course, but could no longer be seen. You may find this hard to believe, but I once talked to a man who relocated to the area and wasn’t aware they existed. He was shocked that after a good rain, they suddenly “appeared.”

Sometimes it takes a storm.

There are moments in my life I see the truth of God’s word clearly, like the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain range. But then allow the things of this world to pollute my thinking, developing a haze that robs me of its beauty. When I do, I find myself “living in the gray,” and ultimately for those in the valley, the dreaded tule fog.

Sometimes it takes a storm.

Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 says, “Better to go to the house of mourning
Than to go to the house of feasting,
For that is the end of all men;
And the living will take it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.”

Nothing brings clarity in life faster than experiencing the “storm” of death, or the “storm” of the diagnosis of a terminal illness. It immediately reprioritizes the things we choose to value in life, and aligns them with what God always intended. Contemplating death reminds us to actually live. (more on this later)

Leave it to a country song to serve as an illustration, and two of my favorites are Tim McGraw’s, “Live Like You Were Dying,” and Cody Johnson’s, “Till You Can’t.” (videos included below)

For what it’s worth as I began writing this post, death wasn’t where I planned on going, but here we are. It’s a subject we should never be afraid to discuss, in fact in verse 4a above in the Living Bible translation says, “A wise person thinks a lot about death.” I believe in part it’s because it helps keep the haze away, allowing us to see our life purpose, as well as the purpose of life, more clearly.

But death is one of only many storms. There’s the storms of divorce (also by definition a form of death), illness, rejection, financial hardship, and the list goes on.

We don’t always understand why we must go through them, but we know that God can make all things work together for good, to those who are the called, according to His purpose. (Ro 8:28)

Even the storms.