Nothing but fog.
The world had disappeared beyond our back fence, smothering my hopes of a fun family night of stargazing.
It’s one of the simple joys I remember about growing up in the country, where the winter night stretches out above you in an endless expanse. While you head to bed, the dark sky awakes with dancing fluorescent colours and millions of tiny, twinkling diamonds. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, you might catch a double-feature – a bright glowing moon casting its spotlight on the sparkling snow.
Living in the city, the streetlights interfere with the fullness of the experience. But if you can find a stretch of darkness, it’s still breathtaking. November’s early nights invite us into new ways of appreciating the world God has made, and this week the temperatures were mild enough to make stargazing a possibility for our little family.
And then, the fog rolled in.
I double-checked the forecast for 6pm. Clear skies, mild temperatures.
11am. Still foggy.
2pm — fog.
Finally, around 3:45pm, the sun seemed to break through. The fog began to dissipate, but the skies were still covered with thin clouds.
The evening forecast changed to partly cloudy skies. At about 5:45, I looked out the window. Stars! The clouds were moving away! We made hot cocoa, filled our travel mugs, pulled on the winter gear and headed to our little spot to see what we could see.
It wasn’t perfect. But it was incredible! Saturn and Jupiter hung low in the sky, nearer to each other than I’d ever seen. Mars glowed red, and the Big Dipper came into view. Vega, Polaris, the stars of Cassiopeia… the darkness surrounded us but our eyes were on the heavens, drinking in their beauty.
Psalm 147:3-5 popped into my head:
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
I need the reminder that the One who holds these stars is the same One who heals the deepest wounds of my heart.
Preach it to your heart when you wake up in the morning and the fog has rolled in. Preach it to your heart when you’re asking yourself if this could really be true: does the God of the Universe even see me at all? And preach it to your heart when the skies clear and the stars are shining again.
Frank E. Graeff was a Presbyterian minister in the late 1800s. He was called the Sunshine Minister for his contagious positivity. According to another hymn-writer, “in spite of his cheerful disposition, he was a man sorely tried by doubts and deep depressions.” It makes sense, then, that he penned these words which were later put to music.
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press,
And the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades
Into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?
Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief
There is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?
Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches
Till it nearly breaks,
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?
O yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
The long night dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
Through stars, through Scripture, through songs, and even in the middle of the fog, I know my Saviour cares.
Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! (Psalm 147:1)