I recently accompanied my husband on his business trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. We had one day to visit The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, about a two-hour drive from Chattanooga, where I hoped to photograph the sunset. On the way there, as we got closer to the mountains, white clouds turned into black rain clouds, but having lived in the Midwest for 10 years now, we pressed on knowing that the storm could be short and sunshine could return. We were correct, and were blessed with sunshine while we drove around Cades Cove and hiked on the trails. But when the time came to drive up toward Clingmans Dome, where I planned to photograph the sunset, it started raining again. The sky turned dark, and I was really losing hope of being able to see a sunset. But we had come all this way, so we drove onward toward Clingmans Dome anyway. We got caught behind some very slow cars and would not make it to Clingmans Done before the sunset, so we stopped at an overlook along the road instead. There were some other photographers there, so I figured it was a good spot. This photograph below was taken there. As beautiful as this photograph is, it fails to capture everything that I’d seen with my eyes. As I stood there watching the sunset, I realized that this scene before me was the aftermath of the rain storm just moments before. If not for the storm clouds, there wouldn’t be all the different hues of orange and yellow in the sky.
Life is like that too. Sometimes there need to be a storm for us to see the beauty of life, the joy of living. There are things that have happened to me in my life, mistakes I’ve made that had led to much grief, that I wish had not happened. There have been hard times, sorrowful times, for me and my loved ones that I wish we didn’t have to go through. But as I have experienced cycles of these hard times, I’ve come to realize that, for one thing, I would not be the person that I am today, if I had not learned the lessons I’d learned through forgiving others for what they’d done to me, and forgiving myself for my mistakes; and the hard times in life had made me and my loved ones stronger, better, wiser than we were before. The beautiful things of life often follow brokenness, sorrow, and hardship, like a beautiful sunset that comes after a storm.