Mostly, our holiday was fun and relaxing but there was one dark day and evening. I wanted to sit on the couch and eat my feelings but Arthur thought it was more constructive to go for a walk along the beach.
As we wandered, I felt pretty sorry for myself, a bit Job-like – things were not going as I’d thought. Somehow my usual competence had been replaced by powerlessness. I felt embarrassed and shamed that things hadn’t worked out how I’d thought. Where was God? Did he care? Was he trying to discipline me? Had he forgotten me? Did he love others more?
Melbourne’s light pollution was a mere glow on the distant horizon and so the stars shone much brighter than I would normally see – the whole Milky Way was visible. And I remembered God speaking in Job 38 of the stars singing. God’s words to Job are not harsh, but there is rebuke in them as he reminds Job that it is he, Yahweh, who orders the world, indeed, he who decides what order is in the first place! But that’s all the answer Job gets — no explanation, rationale or justification for his suffering. I felt a rebuke there for me as well.
As I marveled at the vastness and beauty of the stars, I was reminded of a second truth as well, one from the old song The Servant King: hands that flung stars into space / to cruel nails surrendered. Job tells me that God is in charge; the cross tells me that Jesus knows what it is to feel what I feel. Jesus was shamed, unfairly stricken and forgotten by God too.
None of that changed my frustration that things were not going how I wanted them to. I’d like to say it brought me a sense of peace or surrender but it didn’t. But something about knowing those two things helped, not a lot, but a little bit.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.