Life often seems to be a series of dichotomistic events that don’t harmonize with each other. What do I mean? Sometimes it seems that it is raining in the front yard while sunny in the back. Sometimes our lives seem to be so full of joy and success in certain restricted areas while painful and full of sadness in others.

My life has been such for some time now. For the past five years the sun has not exposed its light in my front yard, but when I go to the back yard, there is not a cloud in sight. These are two areas of my life that are at odds. My family situation starting with my sister who took her life three years ago and my mother who’s mind has been lost due to the aneurysm last year is dark and sad. Each time I step out into the front yard, the storms continue ferociously. I keep looking for a break in the clouds, but it never comes. Depression, anxiety, fatigue, and hopelessness fill the atmosphere. The smell is a smell of death. The mourning delayed turned mourning denied provided by my mother’s condition keeps the clouds overhead in great anticipation, but alludes my hopes of the security her death would provide were it to come. In these conditions, I understand the Psalmist’s cry and contend with him in anxiety:

Psalm 22:1-2 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest.

If I am able to separate myself from the perpetual hopelessness of the happenings in the front yard, I can go to the back and see a different perspective altogether. The clouds of pain are not to be found. God’s joyful presence and power are continually evident here. I walk out into the backyard each day. I find the fruit of labors changing people’s lives and encouraging souls through my ministry. Reclaiming the Mind Ministries finds blessing after blessing. This is my back yard – ministry. In these conditions, I understand the Psalmist’s praise and contend with him with confidence:

Psalm 66:1-5 Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! . . . Come and see the works of God, Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men.

I don’t think that I am the only one who takes part in such a life of seeming contradiction. It would seem that King David found Himself in such a life, and I am glad God thought enough to give us the record of his struggles. 

In the front yard prayers just don’t seem to be too persuasive. Certainly not like the prayer Moses offered up on behalf of the Israelites (Ex. 32:11-14). Spend too much time here and deism becomes a very reasonable worldview. As tempting as it is to lock the front door, I try to spend as much time in the rain as I do in the sun. I know that the Lord is the Lord of the front yard and the back. I know that there is a reason for the bad whether and I am thankful for the good. Even though I cannot sense God’s presence as much in the pain, I know He is there. Why? Because that is what He said. He never promised sun.

Sadly, I know people who have no relief either in the front or back. I know people that have never seen the sun. Both the front yard and the back are filled with perpetual tragedy, pain, and loneliness. I am sorry if you are one of these people. Others simply have cloud colored glasses. They are unable to escape their perception that it is raining, even when it is not. This is just as tragic. Truly, I am sorry. I understand you pain and have no answers. My sister was there and the clouds of sadness took her.

To all of you who join me and the Psalmist in the temptation for deism, let us take courage. Christ has risen. The clouds will soon break forever. It is true. Don’t be overcome. While the darkness is real, so is our hope. May God give you strength until sin is no more.

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

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