The confinement in our homes is forcing millions to stop abruptly, cancel all our plans, and take time to look in the mirror.
Though we all love good surprises, our journeys are marked with surprises we would rather not have received. They break into our lives as uninvited guests. One second you are dry and the next you’re wet. One second you have a job and the next you are unemployed.
There is a huge open field near to where I live. The vegetation is low and the soil is dry, typical of southern Spain. I like to reflect and pray as I walk by this field. Recently, after breakfast, I looked out the window and noticed that there were clouds in the sky, but the sun was still shining. I decided to leave for a walk. When I was about a mile from home I felt a drop of water falling on me. I did not pay much attention to it and continued at the same pace. Soon there was another small drop of water, and then another, then another! I changed direction and quickened the pace. After a few seconds, the rain was falling heavily and I was running back home. As you can imagine, I got completely soaked.
Life is full of surprises, isn’t it? Boris Pasternak, a Russian poet and winner of a Nobel Prize in literature, affirmed that ‘surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.’
Though we all love good surprises, our journeys are marked with surprises we would rather not have received. They break into our lives as uninvited guests. One second you are dry and the next you’re wet. One second you have a job and the next you are unemployed. One second you are healthy and the next you are ill. One second you are beside the person you love, the next they’re no longer around. This is life and we’ve all experienced it.
I am constantly impressed with the Bible’s transparency and openness on this subject. Any honest reader would come to the conclusion that it does not offer any guarantee that those who decide to follow God would not suffer, as a result of unexpected changes. Almost half of its largest book, the Psalms, can be described as laments – their authors were experiencing unforeseen negative surprises which placed them into situations they would rather escape from.
At the same time, a profound message of hope and solidarity emerges from the pages of the Bible. It reveals a God who desires and promises to be with us through all the unexpected changes of our existence. David, author of numerous psalms, confessed: ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me [...].’
Thomas Chalmers, a Scottish mathematician and religious leader born in 1780, echoed the same confidence: ‘When I walk by the wayside, He is along with me. When I enter into company amid all my forgetfulness of Him, He never forgets me. In the silent watches of the night, when my eyelids are closed and my spirit has sunk into unconsciousness, the observant eye of Him who never slumbers is upon me. I cannot fly from his presence.’
It might rain when I least expect. But I certainly will not be alone. And that, I am sure, makes all the difference.