A Story for the Night
Night is a scary time for a child. Daylight offers certainty, for we can see what surrounds us. As twilight pulls over the deep dark, however, our sight is shrouded by pitch black. What we could clearly see in the day becomes an impenetrable mystery in the shadow. As familiarity yields ground to the unknown, assurance surrenders to fear.
When I was a kid wading through many scary nights, my mom could fend off the dark with bright tales. From David and Goliath to The Chronicles of Narnia, she used stories to flood my imagination with light.
One night-breaking story I particularly loved was called Why, Oh Why? Oh Me, Oh My! by Phil A. Smouse. Retelling the tale of Job using vivid illustrations and captivating rhymes, this narrative taught me lasting lessons about life, God, and where to put my trust during the darkest times.
A Different Night
As we grow older, the terror of night becomes more abstract. Whether it’s the failing health of a loved one or a tenuous job situation, the uncertainty of darkness still grips us with its black tendrils.
In our increasing confusion, we ask questions and grope for certainty; we long for something solid to ground our dangling feet. Desperately, we cry out for something or someone to pierce the night. We are looking for a story.
Smouse’s purple-colored Job started off his adventure with everything he could have ever wanted: enough wealth to fund a small country and a family big enough to populate it. Over the course of a few days, however, marauders pillaged his riches, and the fury of nature murdered his children. Left with nothing but his own darkness, Job turned his teary eyes to God and asked, “Why, oh why? Oh me, oh my!”
After many well-illustrated pages of the protagonist’s pleading, “the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm” (Job 38:1). “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” God asks. “Have you given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?” the Lord inquires. When we ask questions, we generally expect to receive missing information.” God, however, bucks our expectations and gives us what our hurting hearts need: himself.
As we grow up into the night, our lives often reflect Job’s. Death may scurry off with our loved ones, poverty may plunder our riches, or sickness may settle in our veins. In the face of our darkening situation, questions are all that we are left holding.
As we look to heaven with our why’s and when’s, God reaches down to us with an open hand. In that outstretched arm, we see our answer in his nail-scarred palms. In our darkness, the Father gives us a story. He tells us of his perfect son who was pierced for our sadness. He describes his Beloved who plundered despair to give us joy. Wrapped in our night, Jesus took up our “why, oh why? Oh me, oh my” so we could live eternal in the Father’s light.