Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as Sheol, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!” ~ Isaiah 7: 10 – 12
The passing weeks have been getting more and more difficult. Family troubles. Failing political landscape. Deepening work woes. Even as we laughed and loved as a family, there was no denying the shadows creeping up ahead of us. Navigating one minefield after another this past week, I knew I wasn’t going to hold on for much longer. Times called for an ironclad faith.
My faith has always been anything but of iron.
Sure enough, a few days back, the earth cracked open beneath my feet. I broke, and I broke hard. Searching within me for faith, I found none. Not a grain. In those hours, I touched deep anger, despair. It had been so very long, this struggle to continue to hope, to trust. Each time, God has not left me bereft. He has always filled me.
But sometimes, sometimes, it feels as if what He has given is too little for the times. This week felt like one of those times.
Strangely, even as I stormed the length of anger and fury, I could sense within me an inner calmness. Inside me, an abode or a being, unperturbed by my turmoil, sad yet serene, as if this something or someone knew this needed to be let out, that this terrible length of wild anguish must be walked.
Unwilling to suppress my frustrations, nevertheless, I desperately didn’t want to sin – by turning my back to God, by being ungrateful
I have no faith left, I told God. If there is anything, it’s only what You have given me. I have none of me.
I turned to lessons I had learned in the past.
If you cannot pray, ask your guardian angel to pray for you. ~ St. Padre Pio
I thought of my friends who need prayers, of my own family and our struggles. Deep needs – but in turmoil, prayer is hard to summon.
Angel, pray in my stead.
I awoke the next day, understandably dulled. Mine seemed like a world after a fire has raged to its demise. Ashen-ed white, everything burned to its stumps, hurt and anger was gone. But so was joy and mirth. Strangely though, deep within, that odd peace held strong. I’m alright, I thought to myself in some amazement.
The hours went by, busy ones filled with work and love. Then, I heard a nudge within me.
Ask for a sign
No, I won’t, I countered. I will not sin. Only I wasn’t sure in what way I would be by asking.
Ask for a sign, came the voice again. A sign as high as the heavens.
I refused. But as the hour slipped into the next, I pondered, How could that be wrong? After all the anger and the raving and the ranting, how could any asking be worse than that? So, bending my spirit, I asked.
Give me a sign, Lord. Give me Your sign.
Give me a sign as high as the heavens.
It was well into sunset when I suddenly decided I would forgive all those who were upsetting me. Even if I couldn’t love them, I could venture out of the gate of my heart and forgive. Even if it changed nothing, even if our troubles worsened, I would forgive and carry on with life. Just as I did, my husband mentioned that our car needed petrol. I hadn’t started on dinner yet and I wasn’t in the mood for a drive but suddenly, I found myself running out and getting into the car with him. We had seen some heavy rain earlier that evening, not for long, but enough to bathe the world and freshen it. In the southern sky, the sun was kissing the sky a soft, watery pink.
Turning out of our road, driving down our neighbourhood, the eastern sky rose above us. Suddenly, to our shock, in the sky, we saw wide bands, like the rays of the sun but of alternate blues and pinkish-orange. We are familiar with blue and white rays but we had never before seen these massive sky-pillars of blue and orange-reds, converging to a secret point beneath the horizon.
Divine Mercy rays, said my husband, quietly.
A sign as high as the heavens, I remembered.
I knew science would have an explanation for it – and it does. What we saw were called anticrepuscular rays which occur in the sky opposite to the setting sun, when low-angled sunlight streams through gaps in clouds and are scattered by particles in the air. It is not a rare phenomenon but can be easily missed. For all the sky-watching we were known to do as a family, we had never seen this.
Mercy, I whispered to myself. Seers have spoken of a sign in the sky when the agony of this earth reaches its tipping point. In her apparition in Fatima in 1917, Our Lady spoke of a sign to come in the sky, a illumination that would warn the world. A great white light fell upon St. Paul and soon, he was converted. Whatever the science behind a phenomenon, I believe that if our hearts are moved by it in any way, we must seek God’s voice for us in it. What is He saying to us? What is He asking of us?
The sign that Ahaz was told to ask God for was the sign that God would keep His promise. Seeing those rays in the sky for the first time was God’s sign to me but I am as yet uncertain about what His message is. It came immediately after a painful day made up of many, many days and years even, of emotional and mental suffering, struggles and endless trials. The sign comes as we descend into the sheol of insanity and heartlessness, of discrimination and of torment. It comes when it seems like things can only get worse – not better.
God is telling you not to quit, said my daughter.
As with Ahaz, was this a sign from high heavens that mercy is coming? And that till then, I must somehow hold on…