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as near as your very next breath

By Susan Orloff
August 7, 2020

Passages of the day: Click HERE ​to read today’s passages.

Ezra 4:24-6:22
1 Corinthians 3:5-23
Psalm 29:1-11
Proverbs 20:26-27

In September, my son and his wife will have been married for 3 years. But in this short time, they have already suffered two crushing losses; and in early July, yet another season of uncertainty was set in motion. And although my beautiful DIL’s faith has been an inspiration to us all, this has left me wanting to rage: “God, they did NOT deserve this! How can you claim to be GOOD?”

God is never silent for long. And on July 16, he sent me the gift of Michelle Darbonne - who, in her devotional that day, told of surviving a collapsed hope of epic proportions. And then on July 27, He sent me the gift of Jade Martin - who described an impossible battle that had left her “yelling at God” over his seeming unfairness. (Wow! I was not alone.)

And then today, from the archives of eternity, he sent me the gift of King David - who in Psalm 29 reveals a God who exists exponentially beyond our grasp, while still being as near as our very next breath. (“The God of glory thunders / while blessing His people with peace.” Ps. 29:3,11) This Psalm resonated with me, since it mirrored Job 38-41 where God delivers his longest monologue in scripture; not incidentally on the subject of bad things happening to good people.

But sadly, even the commiseration and the scripture were not enough. So it was time for a serious conversation:

God began by reminding me that my husband and I will soon be heading up to the Mendocino Coast – a place of mystical beauty, where the physical & spiritual Creation seem to merge. A place that clearly evokes the “eternity that God has set in our hearts” (Ecc. 3:11) He then asked me to recall the most breath-taking sunset that I’d ever seen up there. So I envisioned a vast gray ocean layered with reds & oranges, the deepening blue of an evening sky, and the golden brilliance of a dying sun: colors of near heart-wrenching beauty.

“Now then,” he said, “I want you to imagine that a child who’s been blind from birth and whom you love very much is standing by your side, asking you to describe the colors of that sunset.”

“But God,” I hesitated. “The glory of those colors is beyond this child’s comprehension! And oh, how my heart aches for the child -  but describing such beauty? Where could I even begin?”

“Exactly.” he whispered. “And now you know how I feel each time you question my Plan.”

To memorize:

The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.

— Psalm 29:4

Prayer to start with:

Dear Father,

Thanks for listening. And for reminding me that your Plan (very much like that sunset) is no less perfect because I cannot comprehend it. And thanks for being a God who thunders over the oaks & redwoods, shakes the very deserts, and sits enthroned above the earth’s mighty oceans.

All while being as near as my very next breath . . .

Love, Susan