Friday, April 8, 2011

The Year of the Eclipse

"God can cause unsullied light to spring out of black night.
He can also shroud in a dark cloud of gloom the pure light of day."

~ The Greek poet, Pinder, Ninth Paean - addressed to the Thebans

It was the year of the eclipse, and for the life of me I could not look upon that otherworldly event without some sense of awe and bewilderment.  It was terrifyingly beautiful in some strange sense; but terrifying all-the-same.

"Which eclipse?", you ask?  The one that blocked nearly every ray of light from my life. 

It doesn't really matter what was the timeframe, or even the cause of so great a phenomenon.  Suffice it to say, it was long ago.  Also, it really doesn't even matter what I did during it's duration (but let me just confess right now that I spent the most of it in tears and fear). 

What matters for now, in this thesis, is that a season of darkness rose above the pleasant places where once I had resided; and where I had thought to reside always. 

It was difficult to see in those days; to instruct my eyes to focus - - much less maintain equilibrium.  I had no idea that staring upon that thing - that eclipsing thing - could damage my very sightedness.

In recent days and months I have encountered so many people living beneath their own eclipse.  For some it's been a quick onset and equally quick passing; for others, a lengthy process.  I am often left without understanding, or even words of encouragement for them until I remember my own days of darkness; my year of the eclipse.

The word "suffer" gives me hives.  It makes me shudder.  I ask, "Certainly a good and just God would not allow, much less plan for His children's suffering?".  I know from personal experience that such a question is the surest, most direct route to guilt.

But what of suffering?  What do we make of the many scriptures touting it's needfulness; scriptures about how Jesus sufferred as an ingredient in the mix of obedience (Hebrews 5:8), or of Paul's troublesome thorn (2 Corinthians 12:7), or as a means of demonstrating God's power in or through His children (2 Peter 2:20-21, 1 Peter 5:10, 1 Thessalonians 2:2?

It is at this juncture that I consciously shun the helpfulness style (either in giving it, or in receiving it) of Job's friends who, with their critical eyes and self-righteous pomp compounded Job's suffering and, eventually, their own.  I also shun the inclination to run away from the sufferer, too uncomfortable to sit awhile alongside them.

I remember - again and anew - that suffering has value; that God's own Spirit is provided in large measure to comfort us through it, and to make us able to stand - and even to thrive.  While it produces obedience, it also produces the ability to comfort forward ...   

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
Who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ,
 so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 

If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation;
if we are comforted, it is for your comfort,
which produces in you patient endurance ...

And our hope for you is firm,
because we know that just as you share in our sufferings,
so also you share in our comfort.

We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure,
so that we despaired of life itself.

But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God ...

On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us
Corinthians 1:3-10 (selections)


Rebecca said...

There is NO comfort like that of the Spirit!
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Debbie said...

How I love visiting here. Always such wisdom spoken. The comfort that can only come from the Lord truly is like no other!

Have a wonderful week-end.


skoots1mom said...

on christ the solid rock i stand, all other ground is sinking sand

Terri Tiffany said...

Thank you for these scriptures:) I never thought of this time as a time of the eclipse--but I am learning to look beyond:))

Yolanda said...

I love this quote.I was inspired by this post .Thanks for sharing it.

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

beautiful as always my friend. thanks for letting God use you to minister!

Debbie said...

As you know, I've now had several years of what I think is a total eclipse. And yes, I've had many tears and fears. But I've also found that I've been growing in my faith too. Trust has been hard for me but I've found that God is faithful.

Btw, I met a teacher at work yesterday. She had retired from Rancho last year and was visiting in our break room. She was so full of life and while we were talking, I told her that she reminded me of a good friend of mine; Sassy Granny. Being retired, she's now caring for several children several days a week.

Love you,

Beth E. said...

You speak the truth, Kathleen. Having been through my own eclipse, I know all too well about that darkness. Thank God for the prayers, encouragement and love I've received from you and others!