Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up your loins like a man,
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone
when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
“Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb?—
when I made the clouds its garment,
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed bounds for it,
and set bars and doors,
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stopped’?
Have you ever noticed that when things get hard and maybe don’t clear up as quickly as we would like, we ask God, “Where are you?” The more something seems to drag on, the more painful it is, the more overwhelming, and the more isolated we feel. We are alone in despair. Even God doesn’t seem to be around. “Where are you God? Don’t you hear me? Why don’t you do something!” Ultimately, the most damage done is by our feeling of isolation. But that is the lie. The pain and struggle are real. Of course, we’d like that to be the lie, but it’s not. Our loneliness and helplessness fashion the lie that we are cut off from the source of life and truth. We think we are alone. It is hard to recognize that lie when our feelings grow so strong; when one thing after another continues to go wrong. We start to think it is our own bad luck, something wrong with us that brought all down, somehow deserved or created by our own sin or evil. We search for meaning, but we do it in opposition to the creator of all, thinking we have somehow become disconnected, enemies.
Last week I was running and a flutter of wings on the lawn to my left caught my eye. One of the beautiful brown hawks that I had been admiring all spring had captured a finch or a sparrow in its talons. I quickly looked away, horrified by the raw display of mortality in front of me. The hawk flew away and I did everything I could to shake the image from my head. Unfortunately, as I turned the corner, the very same hawk still clutching its prey, calmly waited ahead of me on the road. As I continued running towards it, it stared coldly at me. I couldn’t help but feel like it was waiting for me. It wanted me to see. Was it a bad omen? A threat? My mind started working furiously through all the possible reasons how and why I was cast as witness to this execution. It finally flew away as I drew nearer to it. I continued running, hoping to forget it as soon as possible.
This is what we do with painful truths. We shake our heads and run away. We hope to forget it, or creatively dress it up into something beautiful or meaningful. Yet when we do this, we miss an opportunity to feel, learn, and connect to the greater story of who we are – God’s good creation. This greater story weaves through the brokenness as much as the wholeness. We are a part of creation, not lords of it. We know so little when it comes to God’s great story. Yet, we are given glimpses through the variety of ways we can connect with creation and each other. In the face of so many uncertainties and difficult times, we need as many ways as we can to remember our connection to one another and the rhythms of God’s creation. This means showing up in the good and the bad. This means casting out lies of isolation and individualism when we see it.
We not only exist with the world around us, we need this world. We need each other in order to fully live into the vitality of the Spirit. The more we live through our connection to all things, the more we participate in God’s holy reciprocity and draw closer to the Divine, as was always intended.
There is a lot of hard stuff going on in the world right now. We are responding in many ways ranging from an earnest clamoring to learn and make it all better to a fixed, stubborn blindness toward anything out of our comfort zone. We may want to cry out to God, “Where are you?” Spiraling in the vortex of it all. I wonder though, if we take a breath, if we look directly at it all, open to what is actually happening, our helplessness and haplessness, perhaps we will hear God speaking from the whirlwind and calling to us, “Where were you?” Perhaps we will see a way not around the mess, but through it, connecting us even more deeply to ourselves, each other, and the world God created. It is then, that we will be able to humbly answer God and say, we were just where we were created to be, with one another.
God, Open my eyes to see the world as it is so that I might more clearly know you through your creation. Give me courage to cast out lies and stand in the broken places. For it is only when we can know and see what is broken that we can begin the healing. Give me wisdom to know I am never alone. For you are always with us and you have given us each other. Give me hope to try again. For hope is ceaselessly refreshed by your love, which endures all things. Amen.