Clouds Above a Hammock in January by Sarah Burkhardt


It is not uncommon to witness a cloudy day such as this Sunday in January. Today, though, it happens to be 42 degrees. And with talk of a winter storm on the way, I decide that even though it's a little cold, it is probably the last opportunity I may have to lie in a hammock for probably a few months. I scan the campus to see if anyone else thought of the same thing. Apparently not. Maybe it’s a bad idea, but I am learning to stop caring so much if anyone else is doing the same thing as I.

And so I put the atlas suspension ropes on the trees, line up the hammock, and as I set a warm blanket in the hammock and stuff on top of my blanket, I start to think about clouds. I think of my post-grad friends and college friends, all dealing with their own challenges, and how easy it is to feel weighed down by emotional and psychological clouds that are all too real. I think of the cloud of depression that surrounds many and one that has surrounded me at times. It is so easy to lose hope in this world, so I soak in the sunlight that is peeking through the clouds.

I remember the words a friend’s mom shared yesterday, of how she had spent two weeks meditating on different verses in Psalm 139 throughout the year, and this one, verse 11, was a particular challenge: “If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night.” I think the psalmist is describing a huge dark-as-night cloud him. Meditating on this verse for two weeks would only bring to mind all the ways my own dark clouds cover me. 

But the words of the next verse completely change everything: “even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” What we see as a cloud, God only sees as light. To him, there is no cloud. God’s perspective is so different from ours. I cannot explain why we go through some of the trials we do. As Ann Voskamp put it, “Who knows why the Storyteller allows heartbreak, but the answer must be important enough, because the Storyteller allows His heart to break too.” 

God doesn’t always take away our clouds, but he is with us and allows the light to shine through. In fact, he is so much bigger than our clouds that our darkness is light to him. What are the clouds in our lives, the darkness that covers us? Are we giving our clouds to God? We serve a great God, who wants to hear about our clouds, and then help us see the light around us. Also, remember other clouds that surrounded you and the light he let light shine through. Let those times give you hope and renew your faith in what he can do.