O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.
Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak;
O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled;
But You, O LORD—how long?
Return, O LORD, deliver me!
Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake!
For in death there is no remembrance of You;
In the grave who will give You thanks?
I am weary with my groaning;
All night I make my bed swim;
I drench my couch with my tears.
(Psalm 6:1-6, Of David, A Prayer of Faith in Time of Distress)
King David, was loved by God, and yet in the Psalms he composed, he offers woeful lamentations about the suffering he experienced in his lifetime. His Psalms certainly speak to those of us who have suffered, as well as expressing the sorrows of our hearts. Distress, pain, sorrow, and suffering can all seem to go on forever with no end in sight. We do wonder with David, how long will God let the suffering go on?
We can also have the same experience of endless suffering just by listening to the news. And depression itself can come upon us like a darkness which will not go away.
What brought this all to mind was the words of St. Paul:
“It is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
As I mentioned in the previous blog, Light Shines in Darkness, I realized what hope we have in the God who shines out of darkness. God is there present in the darkness. God doesn’t have to shine light into the darkness, for in the darkness we will find God, even if hidden, and we realize we don’t have to get out of the darkness to find our Lord. He is there where we are. The darkness is not darkness to God (Psalm 139:12)
I also realized that while suffering and worry seem to go on forever, there is another scale of time within which I can understand my own existence or even the times we are in. It is the time of the The Cosmic Calendar. The Cosmic Calendar tries to give us a graphic view of time from the beginning of the universe (the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago) as science calculates it, to the present day. It takes this long history of the universe and puts it all into a 1 year calendar. Assuming the Big Band occurred at 1 second after midnight on January 1, and then showing when other things appeared in the universe, based on scientific calculations and assumptions. Here is just a very brief glimpse at when some things appeared in our world:
January 1 – 13.8 Billion years ago The Big Bang
December 25 – is the Age of the Dinosaurs
December 31, 23:59:49 – Invention of the Wheel
December 31, 23:59:55 – Jesus Christ walks on earth
December 31, 23:59:59 – The past 500 years
When viewed in this perspective of the universe, we realize that relatively speaking nothing we humans have experienced has lasted all that long. In fact all of human history and experience lasts less than a minute on the Cosmic Calendar. Even if one doesn’t believe in the Big Bang, or thinks the universe is younger than these scientific claims, still we come to realize how whatever we experience in the world is still a very small part of the whole, no matter how much of our thinking and lives it occupies. When we think things last “forever”, or when we worry about why God lets some event happen, we can see things from the perspective of the Cosmic Calendar and realize on the grand scale of things, our troubles are a minuscule part of time.
In the perspective of eternity or of the eternal God, we begin to understand the wisdom of Scripture:
“But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9)
In the absolute immensity of space and boundlessness of time , God shines forth out of the darkness. God is there. The darkness may obscure God to us. The vastness of space and the of enormity of time, may hide God from our eyes, causing us to see only darkness. Sometimes events occur which make us feel the darkness will last forever. But out of this darkness God will shine, illuminating all of time with eternal light and divine love.