The problem with wonder is that once it’s figured out, our enthusiasm for learning fades away. The mystery has left us and our sense of wonder is patched with dull familiarity. This is the case until we find something to marvel about again.
Between the point wonder is gone and the point wonder is recaptured, that is where I stand right now. These are the times when the Father’s quietness becomes deafening.
As I practice mindfulness of God’s creation enveloping a tiny frame such as mine, I grew a habit of looking up at the midnight sky to locate stars. It’s convenient to praise God when His noble work is right in front of our eyes. This makes my going home delightful and engrossing. Some skies are crowded with gems, some skies are fashioned with only a few dots. Most nights, I don’t mind how many stars there were as long as I see any of them glowing for me. Even one was enough to satisfy.
But it happened again last night as I unhurriedly walked my way home — there were no stars. Over the past months, this has been the longest period that I was greeted by a blank canvas. It has been a week without a sighting of these luminous objects and I’m almost certain that the cosmos was robbing me of the simplest joy.
I must confess that I felt miserable not only because the sky was bare. Deep within, there are far greater longings and I’m not just talking about celestial bodies. There are prayers I’ve been praying and waiting for long enough to forget my sense of wonder for God. One of these requests was rest. These past several weeks, I got engaged in many activities such as events, going out with friends, meeting people and so on. I may be physically and mentally involved but the sour truth was that on the inside, I’m getting consumed and utterly tired.
It’s convenient to praise God when His noble work is right in front of our eyes.
My house was only a couple of steps away when the song ‘Everlasting Glory‘ popped into my head. The first two lines of the song instantly broke the feeling of defeat that was rapidly building at that moment. The words were You hold the universe in Your hands yet you chose to be the One on the cross.
Then a thought occurred, or perhaps it was a voice. A brief conversation had sprung in my head.
“The stars were never gone,” the voice said.
I stood on our doorstep and gazed at the starless sky one more time before I entered our house. I looked everywhere yet I couldn’t find a single sparkle. “But I can’t see them now,” I told the voice.
“The sky is just cloudy tonight but it won’t be hazy forever,” the voice replied. “Look up again tomorrow.”
Speechless, I broke into weeping after being overcome by joy.
That same night, I stumbled upon John 20:24-29, the passage that earned Apostle Thomas the title “doubter” because he insisted on seeing proof of Jesus’ resurrection. Like Thomas, we’ve become skeptics at one point, demanding evidence and a direct experience before believing what God has already done on the cross.
It’s not every day that we would feel on fire with our faith. There are moments, lots of moments, where we have questioned God’s pacing and plan. What do we do with prayers that were not granted? What do we with dreams that were never reached? What do we do with people who never returned? What do we do with the little that we have, we know and we can?
The truth is not intimidated with our mere perceptions.
In my personal journal, here’s a part of what I recently wrote: “God, I’m sorry. I’ve been feeling lost and out of touch with You lately. I feel like there is nothing else to desire, nothing else to hope for, nothing else to surrender anymore. This has been going on for weeks now and I can’t clearly hear You. I see You work Your way with every person I talk to and pray for, but I can’t see how You work Your way with me.“
And with that, to my surprise, I realized that I’ve contained God in a box again. Man has a bad habit of giving God such a limited role. How many times have we doubted His power and love only because we couldn’t perceive where He is moving in our lives?
If today you might feel like you are making little if any progress, remind yourself that God is working on His plans for you even when He is quiet. If today you might feel like your appeals aren’t heard, remind yourself that God’s presence isn’t only found in His blessings. More importantly, God’s presence itself is the ultimate form of blessing. If today you might feel like joy is running out, remind yourself that God is making you holy even if it means giving you a cloudy sky for a time.
God doesn’t owe us any explanation. He doesn’t need to be understood but be obeyed in worship and truth. After all, God is god. John 20:29 tells us that those who have not seen and yet have believed will be blessed. Hebrews 11:1 reminds us that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 Corinthians 5:7 states that we walk by faith and not by sight.
The truth is not intimidated by our mere perceptions. It says in Isaiah 40:26 (NIV) that not even one star was missing. So regardless if the stars were visible or not, it doesn’t change the fact that they will continue to shine where they were placed.