Mt. Gambier, a small town on the border between the Australian states of South Australia and Victoria, is reknown for several very large sinkholes. Most of these have been developed into beautiful gardens, and it was in the larger of these sinkhole gardens, known as Umpherston Sinkhole/Cave Garden that I learned a valuable lesson...

As we began our descent into the Umpherson Sinkhole, we found ourselves on a shelf-like walkway, about halfway down. This little walkway was actually invisible from the bottom and the top, for long, heavy vines of ivy hung from the surface nearly all the way to the bottom, completely covering the walkway. It was beautiful from the outside; but when you were behind that wall of vegetation, and all you saw was huge, woody vines and plenty of dead leaves, it was actually kind of spooky...

It all made me think. When we are in the midst of trials of various kinds, the world looks pretty dark and dreary, and sometimes even scary. It is hard to believe there is anything to our world other than that diagnosis, the death of your child, the loss of your home.  

But I had seen the garden from the top. I knew that what we were seeing was certainly not all there was to the sinkhole garden. The fact that we were on a narrow path behind a wall of thick vines didn't change the truth that beauty lay beyond what we could see.

It is the same with whatever set of particular circumstances you are going through right now. It doesn't matter how dark the path is, how ugly, how dry, how moldy the air smells...there are better times ahead. We just can't see them.

As we walked this little pathway, however, we came to a place where the vines had been cut into a window-like opening. From here, the beautiful gardens at the bottom of the sinkhole were clearly visible, and it was a stunning view. I found myself thanking the gardener for creating this window in the vines.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were a little "window" in the dark times that surround us, something to give us hope that there is a something better waiting for us after our time in the darkness is over?

But wait. God does give us such a window...

His Word is packed full of stories about dark times, not the least of which is the whole fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. But there is always a good ending to the stories! God always makes a way! When we read these stories, it is like we are looking through that window in the vines. We know that the God who always made a way in the Bible, will do so for us today! Hasn't He promised:

1.  "I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel's Creator and King. I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea...But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness..." (Is. 53:15-17 NLT).

2.  "If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" (Rom. 8:31 NLT).

3.  "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'" (Jer. 29:11 NLT)?

God is our hope. His little "window" in the vines is His promise that He will make a way. And because He is our hope, we can be sure that there is a garden waiting for us once we are out of the dark times.

The promise of something better isn't all that God gives us, however. As we walk the lonely paths of troubled times, He gives us other little "windows" along the way.

Maybe you are just too broke to even be able to put food on the table, but somehow you find a 50$ bill on the ground. Who put that bill there? Whoever it was, it was directed by God, and this is one of those little "windows" in the "vines" of trials.

Maybe you are feeling completely alone, used up, desperate, and your puppy comes and puts his little nose under your hand and begins to lick you, giving you love and comfort and support. It is God's nudging that brought that puppy to you. It's one of His little "windows" to assure you that the troubled times won't go on forever.

Maybe you are feeling completely overrun with depression and worry and fear, and you look out the window and notice a daffodil blooming in your yard that you are sure wasn't there yesterday. It's one of God's little "windows" to assure you that this "winter time" of your life won't last forever. Your "spring" will come.

Whatever it is that is serving as your "blanket of vines", watch for God's little blessings and hold on to the promises of His Word. Guaranteed you will see some little "windows" to help you know your troubles won't last forever, that God has made a way!

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.