13 March 2014

Samson's Mother: Where Are You, God?

Judges 13

Where are you, God?
The world seems void of you.
The time you lived in our midst
is gone like a dream;
you seem so far away.
Holy places feel empty;
your silence echoes there,
and the ominous question:
do you even care?

Each does as he pleases
and chaos is king,
your people oppressed -
forsaken by you?
Other gods take your place,
gods of gold,
gods of pride -
we are locked in sin's cluthes.
Oh God, where are you?

Where are you, God,
in my little life?
In this world full of problems,
do you have time for mine?
Do you see my dreams of motherhood,
are you there to hear my prayers,
tear-stained whispers
in the silent night -
do you even care?

Where are you, God?
We seek and we wait.
Where are you, God?
Are we hoping in vain?
Few hear your voice -
are we deaf?
are you dumb?
Show us we're not forsaken.
Oh God, where are you?

Praise be to you, God,
for here you are!
You step out of the shadows -
you draw aside the veil -
you break your silence -
you show that you care:
for your people
and for me.
You give me a son -
you give us new hope -
you give us a sign:
you have always been here.


[28. February / 11. March 2014]

Did you know that Samson was also one of those children born to a barren mother? Samson's mother could not have children - then one day an angel appeared and told her she would have a son. I could have written about the rather interesting exchange between her and the angel, then her husband and the angel, but I ended up focusing a bit more on what I think is the general feeling in much of the book of the Judges. More than once, this kind of comment appears in Judges: "In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes." (Judges 17:6, 21:25) Israel had their land, but it was in a mess, there were attacks from all sides, people were not faithful to God but did terrible things (as e.g. the story of the Levite's Concubine shows), picked up bad customs from the other peoples around them, etc. And sometimes God must have seemed far away, also to those who were faithful to Him and saw everything going crazy around them. "The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread." (1 Sam 3:1)

What also influenced this poem was watching Prince Caspian recently. The movie (more strongly than the book) shows a situation of confusion where Aslan seems absent, and the question is: "Do we act without him, or wait?" Acting without Aslan leads to disaster. But waiting and wondering where he is and why he doesn't show up and what he wants to be done, while everywhere around people are doubting, pushing, criticising, giving alternative solutions... that is hard too. And that somehow reminded me of the situation in the book of Judges.

Just because God sometimes seems distant, with things going wrong and us not feeling His presence, does not mean He is distant. He is always here, even if we don't see Him, don't feel Him, don't hear Him. Sometimes we just need to be ready to look, to listen, and to wait for Him. Sometimes we need to look at our lives, and ask ourselves whether it isn't our actions and our way of living that creates distance between ourselves and God (by hurting others, by taking idols i.e. putting other things above God, etc). And sometimes we just need the faith that God cares, and God is here, even when He seems invisible.

Picture by Rembrandt.

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