By Heather Suhr

"He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water his earth and show his love." Job 37:13

When I spend more time outdoors, I see more of the vastness and beauty of God's universe. God is truly amazing. No matter what scientists theorize of how certain parts of the universe are created such as the plant life, the human life, and everything else; God is simply in the midst of it all.

God is the one that formed it all. He has allowed us to explore the universe and discover the new things that God has already created thousands of years ago! What an amazing demonstration of His power. This same power of God can do anything in our lives, especially in creating a new person inside of us, IF we surrender our lives to Him and trust in Him completely.   

No matter the decision we make in surrendering and trusting Him, we will experience trials and blessings. The 'clouds' that God brings in our lives can be viewed as judgment (to punish us) or it can be viewed as mercy (to water his earth and show His love).

The question is what is your focus during trials? Is your focus on God's intent behind your trials or is your focus in how you will respond during trials?

God connects to us in diverse ways. He can be comforting to one person and extremely uncomfortable to another. His blessings can prompt gratitude in one person and cultivate corruption in another. No matter what, it all depends on our relationship with the Lord. For some people, trials bring them closer to God and demonstrate that their worship is genuine. For others, trials drive them away and they want nothing to do with God.   

Job was a man of faith, patience, and endurance. Satan has challenged God that if Job's blessings would be taken away from him, he would abandon God. God allowed Satan to do whatever he wishes to Job except to lay a finger on him (Job 1:12). Job's family, health, livestock, and home all came crumbling down. Job's first response to God was whether he has sinned; but when he realized it was not the reason, he still trusted in God. Job knew God was in control. In this case, God's intent for testing Job was to draw Job closer to Him. And Job did draw closer to the Lord. In the end, Job received blessings far more than he received before the trial he endured.

There are two reasons why trials happen in our lives: 1) we have become distracted and God is disciplining us to get our attention, or 2) God is challenging our faith in Him by developing our character.

Regardless, the 'clouds' will come and go in our lives and it is our decision how to respond. Stop focusing on God's intent. Instead, start focusing on how you respond. Job's response was that he knew he did nothing wrong and trusted in God's glory.

As for myself, I have been experiencing a "thorn" in my flesh that just cannot seem to go away. I have always said if it would go away, things will be a lot better. Boy, was I wrong. My focus was in the wrong place. I've asked God to take it away, but He hasn't. I thought there's a sin in my life that is causing that thorn, but there isn't. I have been too focused on what God is doing to me rather than what I can do to draw closer to Him. Finally, I decided to allow more of God's presence into my life. I decided to embrace the trials in my life in order to lean on Him a lot more. I have decided that it is an opportunity for me to develop my character and grow deeper with Him.

God will bring 'clouds' in your life. It's quite possible that they're hovering over your right now. Regardless, ask yourselves this: "Will I view it as punishment?" or "Will I view it as part of His love and mercy?"

Will you choose to focus on God's intent or on your response to Him? The Lord's mercy is ready to fall upon us and all we need to do is open our arms wide and embrace it willingly. What's it going to be?

Lord, when you send clouds into our lives, we ask that you use the rain to transform our hearts. May we view your clouds as your love and mercy, and be willing to allow You to transform us through it. May you help us focus on ourselves and our response to you through our trials. May you refine our character through the trials in our lives. You are a loving and merciful God, and we thank You for the clouds in our lives. AMEN

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