I think there is something very poetic about the way the sun sets. I have always seen it as a painting that God meticulously strokes into existence every evening. Every night, the sky looks different, something new and beautiful. But then it goes dark. All the color is stripped and there is nothing left but the darkness. Sometimes there are stars scattered across the sky, but all bets are off if the moon is not out. There is something powerful about the time right before dark. We see the glory and the splendor of the sun here. Once the light is gone, though, we are often faced with fears of the unknown and it is hard to see where our next step is to be. I have sometimes wondered if the sun gets desperate and forgets that it will rise in the morning in all of its glory. I wonder if the sun thinks that God has allowed the darkness to swallow it up. Of course, the sun is an emotionless ball of fire 92.96 million miles away and it never actually sets, but I’d like to think there is something deeper here.
When night falls in my life and I no longer feel the presence of God, I forget the ways in which God has moved in the past. I also forget that the darkness cannot last forever and the sun will come up in the morning. I often determine the goodness of God based on whether I can feel Him or see His goodness in my life. In the darkness, it feels impossible to see His guiding hand and hear His still, small voice. This has always been an immense frustration to me. I am often quick to let my feelings rule over my life. I jump to the passenger seat and let my emotions take the wheel. In these seasons, I wrestle with myself because I know who God is and that He will never leave me. I know all of that, but it is so hard to trust those facts when I can’t feel it.
A few months ago, my roommate sent me this quote from John Piper that has since stuck with me regarding this topic. He said, “My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes — many times — my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens — and it happens every day in some measure — I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.” That being said, God’s goodness is not dependent on our emotions or our circumstances. God’s goodness, whether we perceive it this way or not, is never changing and unshakable. This means that God is still good when the diagnosis is the worst it could be or when a relationship doesn’t pan out the way you had thought. God is still good when we lose it all. Most of all, God is still good and God is still God when we can not feel Him.
Notice something beautiful though, right before the light goes out there is a glorious sight to be seen. As dawn comes to life and the sky begins to fill with color, the light spills out into the darkness. There is a promise somewhere in that and He will be faithful to that. There is care in that too. That we might enjoy the splendor of God’s talent and promise. As I watch the meticulously painted sky, I begin to understand more about Him and His endless love for us.
I don’t know what your life looks like or what your faith looks like, but my friends, God has not left. He is still there. The God who walks with you in the darkness is the same God who walked with you at high noon.