Moments of great joy and moments of terrifying darkness. First hand experiences of the glory of God and intense moments of feeling afraid. The readings from Genesis and the Gospel of Luke contain both of these intensely opposite moments – a little like motherhood.
We see Abram (as yet to be renamed Abraham) as God takes him outside, directs his eyes skyward towards the stars, and promises this old, tired, childless man that his descendants will be as numerous as the billions of stars surrounding them in the night sky. What an image! Can you imagine the presence of God being more amazing than this? How awestruck and joyful Abram must have been. And, yet, later that same day, Abram is thrust into a deep, terrifying darkness.
Similarly, Peter, James, and John accompany Jesus up the mountain to pray. As they pray, they notice Jesus being transfigured and his clothes becoming dazzling white. Moses and Elijah, long ago dead, appear beside him. Peter is so thrilled by the experience that he suggests pitching tents and staying awhile. Haven’t you known that feeling of never wanting a moment to end?
And then, a cloud comes over them, and they become frightened. God speaks to them from the cloud and proclaims Jesus as his son. This moment is so profound, so enormous, they fall silent and tell no one what they saw.
Just as Abram and the apostles were similarly given the chance to profoundly experience God first hand, they were also allowed to become terrified and confused. They fall silent and told no one what they have seen. All in the same day!
As a mother, I can totally appreciate having these experiences hours apart – even minutes. So often we experience God’s presence first hand with our children – when they smile and laugh, when they play together peacefully, or when they reach up out of the blue with a kiss or a hug.
And, yet, seconds later, we often see them willfully hurt another or yell in our faces or tell us they don’t like us.
Apart from these very normal ups and downs in the life of a mother, many of us have faced true sorrow, confusion, and fear when we have struggled with infertility, lost children, or faced major medical problems. In these moments, it is often difficult to feel the presence of God. We might even doubt his love for us. And, yet, God promises that his love for us is everlasting.
Just as with Abram, who does receive descendants as numerous as the stars, or Peter, James, and John whose silence is shortly after met with the glory of the resurrection, our experience of God does not have to end in confusion or terror or silence. Just as their hope is answered, their faith affirmed, so can ours be.
After years of infertility, God has blessed us with three beautiful children. After multiple miscarriages, friends have been blessed with new life. I have seen and heard the miraculous work of God in the face of a dire medical prognosis. The Lord does not leave us orphans.
Dear Lord, help me to see you in the moments of great joy and also in the moments of confusion, frustration, and heartache. Help my experiences of your glory carry me through the difficult moments of being a mother. Help me to pray, along with the Psalmist, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; Of whom should I be afraid? … I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!” (Ps 27:1-2;13-14)