On Thursday, it rained heavily for the first time this season in Blantyre. As I drove back to work after lunch, the downpour had died down to soft showers and the sun, bright but not hot, was gently peeking through the clouds as if daring to burn down on us in all its glory. The air was cool and moist; it smelt of wet earth and freshness; that lovely just-rained smell that instantly uplifts even the darkest of moods. Jacaranda trees lined along the street, a purple haze of majestic blooms looked truly beautiful after the rain. A shower of purple petals lay scattered on the road, pretty much like rose petals strewn across the aisle as a bride eagerly anticipates the walk down the altar.
After the blazing, unrelenting white heat that we have experienced these past two months, the rain truly is a refreshing change. To me, it symbolises a washing-off of sorts, brings renewal, a sense of hope and beauty. Suddenly, wilted trees will sprout shoots, green plants will mushroom everywhere and the air will be filled with the croaking of frogs and chirping of crickets; those little pleasures that make me glad to live in a small, unpolluted city in a small, unpolluted African country.
And, through this breathtaking beauty, I realise just how quickly, as people, we forget bitter experiences once we have passed through them. Take, for example, the heat. We will talk about how much it tormented us, but our recollections of its intensity will grow fainter as rain refreshes us further. Or consider the birth process; where (I hear that) the labour pains disappear the minute you hold your baby in your arms.
This beauty also reminds me just how much we appreciate situations, people, places, climates, relationships, jobs or even basic necessities after we have been dragged through the lowest rungs of life and triumphantly resurfaced at the other end.
Even the most simplest of meals is tastier after a bout of hunger or periods of eating bad food; ask any government school boarding student! Likewise, we might not truly appreciate our bodies, possession of our senses and general good health until we fall ill or something drastic happens to us. All this brings to mind the theory that suffering, pain, dark moments and trials are essential for not only our growth, but also a deep appreciation of life.
In one of her daily devotions, charismatic Christian author and speaker Joyce Meyer points out that sometimes, we must encounter difficulties in order to develop the character we need in order to be what God has planned.
David Pack, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Real Truth Magazine resonates this in one of his spiritual pieces. He says and I quote;
MankindÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s suffering is not an accident. It is actually one of the most marvellous tools within GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Plan of making sons who have developed HIS CHARACTER within them. The purpose for every human beingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life is to develop the perfect, holy, righteous character of Almighty God. Suffering is directly tied to building character. Since God is long-suffering, it is also obvious then, that no person is complete in the development of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nature and character until he has learned the value of human suffering!… Suffering completed ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s learning process. Yes, He (as God incarnate) was able to learn as a result of being in the flesh. Being made of flesh allowed Him to learn lessons that He would otherwise not have known. The REASON Christ learned from His suffering is that pain kicks the mental learning mechanism into gear! Suffering is absolutely essential to the character-building process. Because it is a process, TIME and EXPERIENCE are involved.
So, what should we do as we go through these bleak periods of panel-beating? Look at them for what they are; things that wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t kill you, but will make you stronger. And, it wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hurt to imagine the exhilaration and appreciation you will feel for a lot of things once your life takes a turn for the better.