Today is a dismal, bleak, rainy day here in Virginia.
From my window I can watch dirt and mulch, wrenched away from once-splendid summer gardens, tumble in clumps down the street and become caught up in a swift-flowing rainwater river. The debris bumps along on an aimless journey, careening into a pile of leaves at the end of the road, where it rests briefly before slipping through a gaping sewer opening that leads to who-knows-where?
A nor’easter is heading in from the sea, threatening to raise floodwaters, close roads, fill basements, and sweep cars from under people who refuse to believe they’re vulnerable, despite warnings to hunker down.
South of us, Hurricane Joaquin is gathering steam for a pass up the east coast. Hundreds of tree limbs will break off in its gale-force winds, nearly ripened fruit will never make it to harvest, and puzzling objects from the depths of the ocean will stir, and rise, and wash ashore. People will be hurt, and some may die.
It could be days before we see the sun again.
But still, the sun will remain in the sky, peacefully, gloriously, shining, just above the gray clouds and the calamitous vortex of wind and rain. It shines just as brightly throughout this storm as it does on any other day, whether we can see it or not. Regardless of how cold, how wet, how dark we feel over the next few days, it will continue to blaze with its usual fiery heat, sending down to us the exact amount of energy we need to sustain our planet, sufficient vitamin D to keep each of us healthy, and light enough to see where we ought to step (or paddle) next.
I have faith in the sun’s existence, because I’ve seen it and I paid enough attention during science class to know roughly what’s going on up there. I made the requisite Styrofoam solar system and know the sun is securely stationed at the center, even without the help of a wire coat hanger or a tube of Elmer’s glue. I don’t understand why or how it works, but I don’t need to know. I can trust it’s there. I’ll see it again.
Of course, I can chose to deny the sun’s presence, pointing to the eerie gathering darkness as proof of its ineptitude. And when the clouds clear and the rains subside I can still refuse to see the sun by closing my eyes. But that won’t make it not there.
Still, I will prepare for the dark days ahead by stocking the shelves with canned goods, ensuring we have propane for the grill and the fire starter handy for the candles, digging the flashlights out from under last year’s winter coats, bringing family treasures out of the basement, and probably finishing off the coffee ice cream in the freezer, you know in case the power goes out—wouldn’t want that to go to waste. Then, as the winds howl outside my door, I can remind myself: we’re okay, and this will pass.
That’s how it is with God. We can lose sight of Him sometimes, but He’s always there, despite our fiercest storms. We know this because we’ve done our homework and answered that one question we must all answer for ourselves: Is the Bible true? We’ve made the requisite Styrofoam Gospel scene and know that God burns securely in the center of our hearts, even without our duct tape and glitter. We don’t completely understand how He can do this, but we don’t need to know. We can trust He’s still there.
So we’ve prepared for the storm by studying God’s promises, trusting His Word, and telling Him our concerns. Then, as the wolf howls outside the door, we can remind ourselves: we’re okay, and this will pass.
Yet, for some reason, some of us will huddle there in the dark for days, weeks, even years afterward, denying ourselves the warmth and peace He offers. Why do we do this?
We may be angry at Him for not preventing a limb from breaking during the storm, and deny that he’s filling the fields all around us with new life. But we cannot anger him away or close our eyes to the evidence. Just not looking won’t make him not there.
We may be hiding from Him, cowering in the shadows in shame or worry because we’re sure we’ve somehow let Him down, but His light sees into those darkest places, knows everything we’ve done and failed to do, and loves us anyway. He’s there with you under the basement steps, extending a hand. He wants to bring you out of there.
The storms will end soon enough. I challenge you, even while they still rage, to leave your hiding place, venture out, and look up, into the light. Offer Him your hand, your hurt, your sorrow, your regrets, and He will shine on you, just as brightly as He has been doing all along.
The difference between God and the sun, though, is He can make YOU shine as well, because His light is brighter than the sun, and His presence many times more trustworthy. Trust Him. He’s there.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:17-18