Since that solar eclipse, I’ve been thinking about the eclipses we all experience in our lives. I guess it gained momentum in my thinking because August 25 would have marked our 50th wedding anniversary if Edmund were still on earth. April 29, 1993 was certainly one of those eclipse days for me, having my husband ripped away from me so suddenly. It seemed the sun was no longer shining. But as you know, when there’s an eclipse it doesn’t make sense to ask, “Where’s the sun?” It may appear that the sun is no longer shining but it IS in fact still there. The darkness which seems so complete is, in fact, a deception.
And in the same way, when we are going through a dark valley, an eclipse so to speak, and it seems God’s light has been taken away, it doesn’t mean that He is absent. The question we often ask is, “Where is God?” But no doubt about it, God is still there. Check out these verses:
God is around us—Psalm 125:2
God is above us—Deut 4:39
God is beneath us—Deut. 33:27
God is before us—Exodus 13:21
God is behind us—Isaiah 52:12
God is with us—Isaiah 41:10
God is for us—Rom 8:31
God is on our right hand—Isaiah 41:13
God is near us—Psalm 145:18
God is in us—Col. 1:27
God dwells with us—Isaiah 57:15
God surrounds us—Psalm 125:2; 32:7;3:3,6
God’s eyes are upon us—Psalm 33:18
The last solar eclipse that I saw was when I still lived in Papua New Guinea. We carefully explained to the Nabak people what would happen the day of the eclipse. We used our globe and a ball for an object lesson. “Any questions?” we asked.
Silence. Then an elder asked, “How long will it last?” Certainly that was a logical question since the entire livelihood of the Nabak people depends on the sun shining. And if we are honest, when the eclipses come into our lives, we join the Psalmist, “My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord? How long?” (Ps. 6:3)
D.A. Carson has written a book by this title—How Long, O Lord? Reflections on suffering and evil. If you haven’t read it I recommend it, and if you have read it, read it again. My copy is underlined and dog-eared. I will never forget how comforting it was to stand with D.A. Carson at my husband’s gravesite in Papua New Guinea.
When I mentioned some of my ideas about the solar eclipse to my son-in-law, Matthew, he shared his own thoughts about the eclipse. He is a science buff and often interprets his world from that perspective. He talked about how 1.3 million earths would fit inside the sun, and yet the moon can block its light. That seems odd since the moon is only a tiny percent the sun’s size. It happens because the relatively tiny moon is so much closer to us then our big old sun. Matthew went on to say how in those moments of trouble our problems are so close to us, demanding so much of our focus, they can cover the exceedingly important truth of God’s presence. “If we are not careful,” Matthew said, “we let our heartache or suffering or fears grow out of proportion and block the bigger truth that God is in control. He is committed to our good, you know.”
I hope you are as encouraged by these positive thoughts about the eclipse as I am. May our dear Lord be your comfort through the-sun-no-longer-shines times of your life. I pray that your faith and joy and hope will grow in the difficulties life may bring. Frederich Buechner wrote, “Even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of strength and wisdom for the journey that still lies ahead.”
If you didn’t get a chance to see the eclipse, or you’re not sure why people got so excited for it, perhaps this video will be helpful!