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Shared laughter mocks me, as groups of two, three, and four, walk by. Their eyes seem to meet mine, but then slide past unseeing. I follow them, heading toward the open doors ahead that they are passing through. I long to cry out after them: “Look at me. See me. Hear me.” I don’t. They are busy with better, more productive, things. I bless the Lord for all their successes even as I envy them those blessings. Like a swift running current, they flow past my stagnant pool. It seems pointless to call out to them. Even if they saw and heard, there is nothing they can do. My path is beyond their reach. Only God can change the unchangeable.
My present darkness is His will, so I cannot pass through the doors that are open for others. At least I can press up against the windows and watch. The room they have entered is ablaze with light and resounds with music. It is crowded with people, laughing and chatting, making contact, sharing information, planting the seeds of ideas; a mutual admiration society. My aloneness deepens.
I should walk away. Why punish myself by remaining so close, but never close enough? Like the starving child with nose and palms pressed against the bakery window, I still need the crumbs that occasionally are tossed my way, even though they create in me a greater awareness of my deep hunger. So I linger.
How long, O Lord?
God says wait. He is carefully putting all the pieces of my life together. This solitary, shadowy corner is coming together just as He planned. Patience is not my strongest character trait. Sometimes, during the darkest moments of my night, I rail against Him and weep bitter tears. As quickly, I repent of the failure of my frail faith. Trust is, at times, an Everest that defies my best efforts to reach its summit. I know He makes no mistakes. I understand He has reasons—and good ones—for leaving me here. Like Job, I present my case and cry out for God to explain His.
Chattering voices and the chinking of glasses reach my ears. Toasts are being offered in celebration. A persistent voice whispers: “And who celebrates for you?” I push the thought away. I know it will return the next time some small victory comes my way and there is no one to share my happiness.
I shiver. There it is again, that subtle rejection of God’s will and presence. How often I have prayed that He would take away this desire for what isn’t part of His plan for me. He neither takes me from this darkness, nor does He remove my desire to be taken from it. That too is part of the plan.
I am ashamed. I turn back from the lighted window and look out into the darkness. As the Spirit of God adjusts my spiritual night vision, I weep again. The music from inside the room fades, replaced by the hoot of a nearby owl, the chirp of crickets, and the soft rustle of wind through barely visible trees. The air is heavy with the fragrance of lilac and gardenia. A million stars gleam overhead. I missed them in the glare of the light streaming from the windows. There is such beauty in the darkness. My shroud, whose folds hide the arms of God, embraces me. He is always good, and never as good as He is right now. I weep over my sins. Not content with the bounty of my night, I wanted more, even when He has given me so much. Thoughtless and unappreciative, I threw it back at Him.
Someone once said: “Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.” Not one promise He has made me has failed. Though they don’t disappear, the voices are muted, overtaken by the sounds of the night. The grass stirs at my feet. God walks here in the dark.