Galileo once said, “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” As an astronomer, I believe he probably had an even greater appreciation for the heavens than your average person. The more he discovered, the more he marveled. Those bright lights stuck up in the sky were more than just far off twinkling specks with absolutely no purpose. God created the stars to light up the darkness along with the moon. Astronomers estimate that there are up to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way alone. The human eye can only see about 3,000 of those stars, and this number has still always sounded far too generous to me. Even back home where there are no tall buildings with bright lights and pollution to get in the way, I cannot possibly conceive that I’m seeing 3,000 stars at a time. There are always the particularly dark nights as well, where I struggle to see even one.
Never had my breath been taken away by stars until one late night in Luswishi in northern Zambia about three years ago. The night sky already looked more massive than usual. Every inch of that dark blue canvas was dotted with sparkling stars and opaque colors I cannot describe. No words, not even a photograph, could encompass my awe at this marvelous expanse. I would be lying if I said anything has ever come close to the feeling of sheer wonder in experiencing the heavens that night.
I have yet to see such a sight since then. In my day-to-day life, I will never enjoy that kind of display – especially not in Chicago. Most nights, the sky is barren to me. Funny how easily I forget that God uses His creation to teach me something valuable. Day-to-day life can often seem kind of barren, dull or even dark, with only moments here and there that remind us that God is good, faithful and loving at His very core. Like an ordinary night sky, we usually only ever see a few stars because the rest are hidden from us, and it is beyond our physical capacity to see them. If we assume that there are 400 billion stars and we can only see around 3,000 (on a good day), then that means we are seeing only .00000000075% of the stars!
How often do we focus on the negative because it just seems to extend forever and ever? Even when we do catch a glimpse of something wonderful or receive a small blessing, it still feels as if it barely makes a difference. The reality is, your sky is completely overtaken by billions of blessings that you may never see until later, or in heaven. Sometimes, you have to remove yourself to get a new perspective. When I stood under those stars in Zambia, the darkness was literally swallowed up by their pure and glorious light. There will be those moments when God will allow us to be overwhelmed by His grace and work in our lives. When we experience those moments, we cannot help but worship Him and stand in awe.
The challenge is accepting that the light is there whether we see it or not. Faith is hard, and it is definitely not something that comes easily to me. In Scripture, many of God’s own chosen prophets struggled with seeing God’s goodness, yet chose to praise Him anyway. Daniel 2:22 says, “He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.” Daniel goes on to praise God for His wisdom and might, and for His revelation to him, regardless of anything else.
This life is never going to hand over a telescope to see all those stars that are hidden, but God has granted us faith to know beyond our sight that He provides and comforts, and will be sure to remind us through His beauty that He is there for us.
This piece is considered a “standard” column in our print edition.
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