Cloudy days of the soul often block our view of God, threatening faith in his goodness.
But they persist in our souls’ regions, these pandemic times. “Cloudy with increased chance of precipitation, in the form of salty tears,” a forecaster may say.
The Preacher has fought depression ever since he became ill with West Nile Neurological Disease over a dozen years ago. Medication helps, but he finds even more cloud overhead these unmotivated, isolated days. That casts shade on me too. Music helps sometimes. So does a visit with family and friends, even an electronic one. Little lights and candles don’t hurt, nor does a chunk of chocolate.
But our own cloud cover is thin in comparison to the fog that has enveloped some dear friends. One couple recently lost their son, still a young husband and father. Their skies have become stormy and black. They’ve never experienced such darkness. Another good friend has lost her husband of over half a century. Other loved ones are facing imminent business closures, economic losses, illness, and relationship breakdowns.
I could quote encouraging Bible verses or a hymn or poem. Remind you that God is present. That Jesus knows our days both bright and dark. All that is necessary for Christ-followers to do and remember. But thick soul-clouds don’t shove off with a single punch of inspiration. We need a steady stream of reminders that God cares when inner darkness threatens to pull us into the vortex.
God sent me one of those recently. On a fall evening, after a gloomy cloud-filled day, I opened our back door to let the dog out. A newly pruned tree provided a previously unseen view of a neighbour’s wide window, a few houses down the back alley. To my surprise, the window reflected the setting sun. It blazed just above the horizon, a narrow though glorious reminder of the sun’s presence.
I rarely catch a sunrise, but I hate to miss a good prairie sunset. Delighted, I rushed to the front of our home, looked west, then south, hoping to see more. Disappointment quickly replaced expectation. I found nothing of the glory I’d seen reflected in the neighbour’s window. Other houses blocked my view of the horizon. Because of the placement of homes on our street, not even a crack of crimson speared through the gaps between them.
So I scurried back behind the house. Watched the sunset from outside someone else’s window. I stood long enough to catch God’s reminder that the sun still shines, even when I can only see its reflection.
I’ve learned that lesson (and had to relearn it) often over the years. When my circumstances seem to hide Jesus from me; when faith dims, I find him reflected in surprising places. In the smile of a stranger. In the words of a song or the song of a bird, sent at the perfect moment.
Mostly, I see God reflected in the faces, hands and actions, voices and words of people who care. For those under cloud, let’s all be such reflections.