My mother used to tell me to pray to God. She told me he watches over us in our darkest moments; he holds our hand when we fear to walk; he lifts us when we are fallen. When you look for mercy, you look to God; when you crave love, it is God who gives; when you desire peace, it is God who relents. Every day, it is His light that casts away the shadows; it is His clouds that grace the sky, His rivers and His trees that feed us and quench our thirst. He is the master of all luck, the keeper of fate, the maker of destiny; it is He who shapes us into what we are.
When you are seven and the nightmares come baying for blood, it is not He who comes to protect you. He does not hide you from the monsters that lurk beneath your bed, does not save you when you fall and break your arm and your leg. You will not find Him when your best friend lies dying of cancer; you will find no trace of Him as you weep beside his coffin, dressed in black and grey, with only the thunder and the distant storm to keep you company, weeping in time with your wails and your sobs.
When winter comes, it is not He who warms the freezing and the homeless. He will not mend the awkward silence between your parents, will not soothe their souls and calm their hearts as they weep and yell and shout, in anger and in rage; their shrieks of pain and their cries of agony will echo in the darkness long after they were uttered, and in the shadows of the night it is not He who wipes away the tears that run naked and bitter down your cheeks. It is not He who repairs the shattered homes and it is not He who breaks down the walls that were never meant to be built.
It is not He who will conquer tempest and thunder, not He who will take war by its throat and throttle it, not He who will spare the dying from their torment and the sick from their ailing. Against sadness, and hatred, and misery, He stands not a chance, weak and flimsy before their tumultuous onslaught. Against despair and jealousy, He is small comfort, and prayer after prayer He will be mute, as silent as the stones that make the walls in your brooding heart.
He is blind to this thing we call justice, indifferent to the creature we call love; to Him are raised a hundred, a million statues, and in them are His eyes both blank and coldly empty, as inhuman as the storm whose wrath knows not the limits of mercy, whose rage knows not the temper of love. In His name is there bloodshed; in His name is terror waged. If these are the waters that belong to Him, why do they flood and foam and froth so madly so? If these are the trees that are His creation, why do they sicken and wilt and wither in the prison of age, why do they fall to the axe man’s steel?
And yet my mother told the truth.
In our darkest moments, He is the warmth on our backs and the sun in the sky; He is the reminder that light is always there if you look for it, He is the crutch on whom the crippled walk. He is the song of the mockingbirds in the spring air, and the scent of wet earth in the coolness of the rain. He is the touch of a lover and the gleam in an eye, the smile of an infant loved, the laughter of a happy child. He is the small things, the tiny details in the larger scheme of the day. If you fear the path ahead, He is the reason you will lift your foot and step forward; if now you cannot walk, so hurt and badly maimed are you, he is the reason you will rise and crawl forward inch by inch. He is the beautiful things we fail to notice, the tiny things we do not care to see, the little things that escape our attention, insensible to the fact that it is the small things that make the big picture. Every second of every day, he dwells within the warmth of our chest, and makes the rhythm of a human heart not lose its melody.
Every angel of his is a terrible thing, every servant of his despicable; they are anger and wrath and sadness, misery and hatred and despair. They are lies and deceit and deception, hurt and agony and pain that is the heat of the stars encased in the numbness of ice. They are the beasts that plague your dreams and the creatures that scar your soul forever; they are the demons that torment the soul, the devils that harass your convictions, inch by inch and bit by bit. They are the reason your hair turns grey and your limbs quiver and ache; in them lie the roots of a hundred small habits, a thousand tiny hurts and minor scars. They are insects, and the wrath of the gods unleashed from Pandora’s black box.
Every angel is terrible. Every angel of His is a messenger, and their message are causes and circumstances, problems and difficulties and obstacles greater than the greatest mountains and deeper than the darkest dungeons, and in their message lies the heart of God.
God has another name. It is hope.