A few weeks ago I wrote a Reflection encouraging people to take a moment to see the beauty in all the snow we have been getting. You know, a “don’t curse the darkness but light a candle instead” type of perspective. Which is true. Just take a look at the picture above.
But I think I have learned the lesson and I am ready to put winter in the rear view mirror. Just about everyone I talk with is asking the same thing. “How much longer are we going to be getting snow?”. Another Nor’Easter heading our way? Geez, its spring time and we are hoping to have an outdoor Easer Son Rise service a week from Sunday. We are done with shoveling, done with clearing off our cars, done with states of emergency, done with salted roads and donewith school closings. It’s all real pretty but winter is over, let’s move on.
How much longer?
Throughout the Bible we see God’s people asking God for deliverance and crying out for their oppression to end. They beg God to come to their resuce. In Psalm 77 the Psalmist questions God:
I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
“Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
We see the same sentiment in the book of Revelation chapter six when the martyrs of the faith question how much longer the Church of Jesus must suffer.
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.
St. John of the Cross was a Spanish Catholic mystic and priest who lived in the 16th century. He wrote extensively about what he termed “the dark night of the soul.” From personal experience of severe persecution, imprisonment and torture, John’s spirit cried out to God “How much longer, O’ God?” Pete Scazzero, in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, describes the “dark night of the soul” in this way:
“How do we know we are in “the dark night?” Our good feelings of God’s presence evaporate. We feel the door of heaven has been shut as we pray. Darkness, helplessness, weariness, a sense of failure or defeat, barrenness, emptiness, dryness descend upon us. The Christian disciplines that have served us up to this time no longer work . We can’t see what God is doing and we see little visible fruit in our lives.”
We long for the dark night to give way to the sun light of God. We ask God: “How long…how much longer must we endure this pain?” We yearn for peace and happiness. What we don’t realize is that God is using our circumstances and feelings to rewire our brains and rework our heart. He is purging us of our false gods and those things we hold on to as He is bringing us to a place of total trust and abandonment to Him and His will. He is bringing us to the Garden of Gethsemane where we bow and pray along with Jesus “not my will but Your will be done.” As Scazzero goes on to write:
“in addition to purging our will…God also adds something into our souls. He mysteriously infuses or imparts His love into us. God powerfully invades us when we persevere patiently through this suffering. Our great temptation is to quit or go backward, but if we remain still, listening for His voice, God will insert something of Himself into our character that will mark the rest of our journey with Him.”
On one hand we ask: “How much longer?” On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to be clay in the Potter’s hand, we will be molded by Him and for His purposes. We may not see it now but God is doing a work in and through us. He is helping us to detach from the world and attach to Him. He is guiding us to trust in the mystery and let go of the certainty. He is breaking our self-will and creating in us God’s will. He is breaking us down so we can experience a personal resurrection aligned with His character.
The Psalmist, after some wrestling comes to this conclusion:
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
Hang in there. Three more months and it will be summer. We should be done with the snow by then. I hope.
What do you think? How does it make you feel?