When The Sun’s Rays Are Weak

by Rev. Dr. Susan Smith

The other day I was walking my dogs right after dawn and honed in on the fact that it was so cool. The sun was coming up but the coolness of the night before was still hovering over everything, causing the air to be cool. As I walked and the sun got higher, it began to get warmer. The sun was hot; I broke out in a sweat, and I wondered if the sun was moving toward something that enhanced its work and caused heat.

It turns out that I was walking during the part of day where the rays of sun are weakest. The sun and earth work in relationship with each other; it is the condition of the earth and the sun’s relationship to the earth which largely accounts for the heat we feel. The reason why  coldest part of the day is right after dawn is because earth loses heat during the night; it cools off by radiating heat out to the atmosphere. The sun has to compete with and counteract the rate at which the earth is losing heat. It is not until the sun’s rays can do that that we begin to feel hot.

I was intrigued. I always thought the sun was the most powerful “thing” ever. It never occurred to me that the rays of the sun could be weak at any time, but they are the weakest right after dawn because they have to recover from what darkness does to the earth. The sun has to fight for its place.

If even the sun has moments of weakness, then we ought not be surprised or troubled when we at times are just …weak. Everyone is weak at some time or another. We have “dawns” and “dusks” in our lives on a cyclical basis. After we have been through a “night,” where our strength, our confidence, our hope and faith have “radiated out” into the wilderness, the spiritual strength we need in order to move and function has to compete with our spiritual foundation which undergoes a shift in balance during our nights.. Just as dawn comes every day, a time where the sun’s rays fight for their place, we have dawns in our lives where our spiritual strength fights for its place.

Is having bouts of weakness something about which we should be ashamed? No, especially as we understand how nature works. We are an extension of nature; we can see how God works in us by watching how God works in nature. If even the majesty of God can not or does not prevent the weakness of the sun’s rays right after dawn – every day – causing even the hottest day to have moments where the day is actually the coldest – when we need not expect that our sojourn will be any different. Night comes in our lives, a time when we cannot see and where we are weak.  We need a special kind of strength, a different kind of energy, to keep going while it is night. During the periods of night in our lives, as we are losing some things within us, we are looking for the light – the sun – but even when we see the first dawning of light, we are fighting the powers and principalities which have rejoiced and participated in our temporary loss of strength.

Our comfort is in knowing that, as the sun’s rays do not retreat even as they compete with heat radiating from the earth, neither does the intentionality of God. Every day, God comes. Every day, God keeps on being God, bringing us from the periphery of our wilderness experiences to a place where we can feel the full power of God. Where we have been cold, shivering from our losses, we become strong, warmed by God’s presence.

At dawn, we shiver. In our country this past weekend, when racial hatred spewed over the ground in Charlottesville, we were pushed deeper into night, a night which has been coming for a while. As the full fury of what happened in Charlottesville blew up, the night became darker and darker. It is a nighttime that many in the past who have battled white supremacy have felt. This night is cold and dark and scary.

It will take some time for the power of God to break through where we are right now. We are still deep in the night.  It will take us bearing and enduring the experience  when the rays of God’s presence are “weak” as dawn begins to show itself to survive this and thrive in spite of it.  We might be troubled…but only if we forget that dawn is the coldest part of any day, but that as the day goes on, the sun takes over.

And God …will take over.

Amen and amen.

About The Author

Dr. Susan Smith Dr. Susan K. Smith is the former pastor of the Advent United Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio. She received her education from Occidental College, Yale University, and United Theological Seminary. She is the author of five books and the proud mother of two children.

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