Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away. 11 Who understands the power of Your anger And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? – Psalm 90:10–11 (NASB95)
"It was a dark and stormy night" is an often-mocked and parodied phrase written by English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton in the opening sentence of his 1830 novel Paul Clifford. The phrase is considered to represent "the archetypal example of a florid, melodramatic style of fiction writing,"also known as purple prose. The phrase comes from the original opening sentence of Paul Clifford:
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

I think I first read the words, “It was a dark and stormy night” in a Peanuts cartoon. Snoopy keeps trying to write his novel and frequently begins this way. It was long after that I learned it was from a real novel, and that awards are given (not necessarily so complimentary) for similar beginnings.

Still. I understand about dark and stormy nights. You do too. We all understand. We know because we’ve lived through such nights, or we know someone close to us who has. Just like real dark and stormy nights they keep us awake, fill us with fear and dread, steal our peace, and leave us shaken.

Sometimes, we create our own dark and stormy nights. Sometimes, they surprise us, blowing up out of an otherwise clear sky. The result is the same. It’s what makes dark and stormy nights undesirable at best, tragic and heart-breaking at worst.

Here are some ideas to work with as you face your own dark and stormy night:
  • First, storms pass. Even the worst of them. Yes, they can leave destruction in their path, and there might be a long recovery, but they pass.
  • Second, storms never eliminate the next bright day. Seems like they will, but they don’t.
  • Third, God provides hope and help. You will likely have to look for it and want it. But it’s there. When you find it, you get help to clean up the mess, and you get to enjoy the sunshine of a bright day.
Many can look back on dark days of their past and honestly say, "It was a dark and stormy night." The night has passed.