"I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining;
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it;
I believe in God even when he is silent."
—anonymous Jewish poem, set to music (YouTube) by Mark A. Miller
When I directed a church choir, this arrangement of "I Believe" was one of my favorite songs. Some say that this poem was found on a wall of the Auschwitz prison camp, and others say in a cellar in Cologne. Whatever its origin, the lyrics and the song’s simple melody in a minor key seem to epitomize both the despair and hope of human conditions.
As a resident chaplain at a local hospital, I routinely witness deaths and countless other forms of human suffering. In the midst of so much suffering, I often just listen and absorb their painful stories. We call it compassionate presence, but I may be crying inside. When words fail, I pray and sing.
One night, I was listening to a family member’s stories in the hospital. Their loved one was not doing well. After what seemed like many hours, I noticed that the skyline was changing colors. It was time for me to get going. In my parting prayer, I thanked God for the sun that rose every morning, and asked for healing, strength, and courage.
On my way out, I stood by a large window facing the eastern sky. Now the dark sky was becoming indigo to purple to light blue to orange, but there was a thick, grey cloud on the horizon. The edge of the cloud looked like burning, so the sun must have been right behind it.
I stood there for a moment, wanting to see the sun. But it seemed to take forever, and I was tired. As I softly sang the song, I turned away from the window. I knew that the sun would rise again, and there would be a new day, a new life, and a new joy to come.
Dear God, help us keep our faith strong so that we can face challenges with courage, remain hopeful, and support each other in love.