Psalm 74 is another sample of the kind of praying we have forgotten, or abandoned, or never thought possible. The nation would gather as one. They would fast, and then they pleaded – together! – with God whom they thought had forgotten or abandoned them, detailing various catastrophes that had befallen them, sounding a bit like W.B. Yeats, “Things fall apart, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, everywhere innocence is drowned, the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” And this didn’t happen yesterday, but has oppressed them for years. Understandably, they ask “How long?”
Yeats found some optimism, adding “Surely some revelation is at hand.” Indeed. The Israelites found the revelation to come in what God did definitively once upon a time, and every day since: “Yours is the day. Yours also is the night.” We hear an echo here of that moment in creation when “God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night” (Genesis 1:4-5).
It’s not a hard and fast separation, is it? Day languished, darkness gradually descends, while light lingers above the horizon after sun has set. Then at dawn, the light gleams well before the sun proper peeks over the edge in the east. In the darkest darkness, there is some light. And the light never is pure, or we’d be blinded.
As Psalm 139 reminds us (speaking to God!): “Darkness is not dark to you; the night shines like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” It’s not that God is in the bright, sunny days, and absent in the bleak, dark hours. The night is God’s, just as much as the day. Chipper moments are in God’s hands. The agony of not being able to see any good or hope is in God’s hands as well.
Michelangelo (on my mind since we visited the Sistine Chapel exhibit here in town!) portrayed God making this division between light and dark, between day and night, in stunning fashion. God, floating effortlessly above it all, separates. Not violently, not shoving, not turning God’s back on the dark. Knowing people would crane their necks to look upward, Michelangelo has us looking up at the bottom of God’s chin, up under his grey beard. Who sees a grownup this way? A child, of course. “Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong.” God’s strong, gentle hand embraces and upholds the light. God’s other strong, gentle hand embraces and upholds the dark.
People love to photograph sunsets – or are they sunrises? Who can tell. God lives beautifully at the boundary between light and dark that is the sunrise and the sunset. Maybe that’s why both are so beautiful. And why all our days and nights are God’s, and we have hope.← See All