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D-120/123, First Floor, Kailash Vaibhav D-Wing
Next to Kailash Complex
Hiranandani -Vikhroli Link Road,
Park Site, Vikhroli (West),
Mumbai 400079
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Ph: 91 22 2572 4191

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Rev. Dr. Cecil Clements,
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Home arrow Articles arrow Silver Linings
Silver Linings

I watched the river speed by—there was nothing serene about it.  Its speed was almost maniacal, rushing along as if seized with an urgent sense of purpose.  Its hungry waves sucked in anything that was unmoored.  A helmet floated by, then a suitcase, clothes picked from various homes and miscellaneous items of wood, paper, cartons and the like.  I looked down at the place where I was standing, a small piece of floor that remained to remind people like myself that a room had stood here, a comfortable room ten feet by twelve, a room that had offered its comfort and security to a newly married couple, a room that had shaped their dreams and plans for the future.  Now all that remained was the small piece of floor we stood on.  Three walls and a ceiling had yielded to nature’s fury.  The water had taken everything—two steel cupboards, a washing machine, TV, cots, mattresses, documents and clothes.  I looked at him standing there, and had to turn away.  I couldn’t bear to see his pain, the slumped shoulders told a tale, of deluge, that had left destruction in its wake.  

The clothes hung gloomily on makeshift clotheslines, as if too tired and too ravished to even flutter in the gentle breeze.  Even the vibrant splash of colours representing myriad articles of clothing couldn’t dent the somber atmosphere.  “I’ve washed these clothes three times,” she said, “but the smell refuses to go.”  The watermark on the wall spoke for itself, five feet of gushing water.  “It came in with such speed,” she said, “and left with whatever it could take.”  And left behind, I noted, a pungent, acrid smell that seemed to hang in the air with unappreciated tenacity. Yet another home, fighting the legacy of an unexpected, unwelcome deluge.

They huddled together in a hospital room, willing the little baby to take the proffered milk, but to no avail.  She looked so defenseless, so vulnerable, and so small.  And yet, for one so young she bore the marks of the scalpel—the surgeons had already tried to rectify the deficiencies in the little child that God had allowed into this young couples’ hearts.  Even as I write I get a call from the mother informing me that the operation (the third in forty days) is successful.  Thank God, she says, breathing heavily after the exertion of walking up a flight of steps.

“Thank God,” I thought, a sense of déjà vu enveloping me.  I keep hearing those words, yet they emanate from strange situations, under adverse circumstances.   “Thank God my parents were not in the home,” I remembered hearing as I stood on the floor of the missing bedroom.  “Thank God my children’s books were all safe,” was the relieved cry I had heard as we stood among the hanging clothes and offensive odour.  Thank God, they had all said.  All had seen the silver lining in the gloom of a darkened cloud.  All were able to stand firm and say that God had seen them through.  Adversity it seemed had highlighted the solidity of their Faith.  Misfortune seemed to draw them closer to the Rock.  “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” Jesus had said to Peter and it seemed like the gates of hell had not prevailed.  Faith had been tested and Faith had NOT been found wanting.  When each had nothing left but God, God had been enough!

Gloria Gaither recounts in the Gaither Gospel Series, Hymns:  “It was the dream of Annie Vincent Jones to be a concert pianist, and it looked as if that was exactly were she was headed until in her late twenties she was diagnosed with crippling arthritis.  Her hands began to twist and gnarl and she could not play the piano and eventually at the end of her life she was four feet tall.  But she continued to write the praises of God her whole life.  The very last song that Annie Vincent Flint wrote was one she paid dearly to write.  By now her hands were so gnarled that they had to wedge a piece of crayola or chalk between her fingers so she could write and there was a board rigged up above her bed to which they tacked paper, and in these circumstances with these gnarled hands she wrote these words: God has not promised skies always blue, flower strewn pathways all my life through; God has not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain.  But He has promised strength for the day, light for the journey, and joy for my way.”  

Words seem so useless at a time like this.  Silence seems to be the preferred alternative.  But to all of us who carry the marks of adversity, the scars of misfortune, the memories of disaster or the pain of unanswered questions, Annie Vincent Jones’ most popular song will bring comfort:

"He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater
He sendeth more strength when the labours increase
To added affliction He addeth His mercy
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.


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