Sunrise from Jana’s hospital window
I’ve watched many sunrises in the past few months. Even though they mean another long and weary day is starting, I look forward to them. The house is still quiet, and the coffee maker is about to turn on. I’ve been awake for a while, reading, writing, crying, or just sitting in the dark. Each sunrise is different, but they are always silent and somehow calm the anxiety in my soul. Some of the sunrises are incredible, with vivid color splashed all over the sky. You can’t turn away from them. They are so brilliant it seems that you could close your eyes and still feel the changes in the sky reflected on your face. These are the mornings that people stop on the side of the road and take pictures. Others are more subtle. Pink and pale gold creep in, pushing away the darkness. And sometimes the sky is thick with clouds and you can’t see the sunrise at all. It still gets light, dim and gray, but light.
Every time I see the sun rise I think of Lamentations 3:22-23. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.” Since Samuel died, Bible verses of hope and love leave me feeling angry, because I can’t see how they are true. But these verses, in front of the sunrise, do not. Maybe because the sunrise itself feels peaceful. If I start thinking about the rest of Lamentations, I get confused and angry again. So I have this one sentence. I’m not even sure what it means or if I believe it. I can just hear it without resentment. That’s not much, but it’s something.
I wonder if God’s mercy is like the sunrise. Sometimes it overwhelms and it’s gorgeous. You can’t turn away, everyone notices. God writes his compassion and presence in bold, obvious ways. Other times God’s mercy is like the subtle sunrise. His peace steals in quietly, privately, calm and comforting. And then there are the gray days. Mercy might still be there, moving in the background. But you won’t notice unless you try and look for it: God’s mercy in a friend who drops dinner off at your door, or in an email from someone reminding that they are thinking of your family. An apology. A knowing look between you and your spouse. A spontaneous kiss from your kids.
Is God’s mercy is like the sunrise on a stormy day too? Not the gray mornings, but days where the little light that makes it through the thunderheads does less to cheer and more to reveal the branches and leaves and shingles littered across the backyard. In the dark you can hear the storm on the house, but morning reveals it’s true danger. You can see it battering the trees, threatening to tear them over. Rain weighs everything down, storm drains overflow, and the toys the kids left in the grass are swept down the hill and lost in the woods. It is frightening, and you wonder if you will survive the storm or if a tree is going to land on your roof. You cannot see the sun. You believe it’s there only because you trust the pattern you’ve seen all the other days of your life.
I guess most of the time we make it through the stormy days. The winds calm, the clouds thin, and the light becomes pleasant again. We go outside and clean up the damage.
The storms of life, well, not everyone survives those. I don’t think we are promised an end to all storms, either. Will God’s love be new to us again? Will we see it when we figure out how to live in this storm?