“It would be better to plunge into that labyrinth, to confine themselves to that black gloom, and to trust to Providence for the outcome.” (Victor Hugo—Les Miserables)
One of my favorite works of literature is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I am deeply moved every time I read the “sewer scene” where Jean Valjean carries the collapsed body of Marius over his shoulder through the dark foul stench of the underground beneath the city of Paris trying to find an escape. There is no illuminated path. There is no blue print. There is no messenger pointing the way. There is only the hope of trusting in “Providence for the outcome” as you push through the darkness.
The invisible Hand that guides us is the same one from Psalm 139: 10-12: Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” The path of Providence is brightly lit for the one who made it, not necessarily for the one who travels it.
So what is the answer when we don’t know what path to take? Trust God in the darkness. When we can’t see any end in sight? Trust Him. When we don’t know how much longer? Trust Him. Trust in His perfect timing. Trust in His guiding your way and holding your hand, even though you can’t see or feel it. Trust in His character when you can’t sense His presence. “Hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” (Hosea 12:6b)
One time when our family was going through a difficult time in seminary (of which I cannot even remember the specific details now), we heard a preacher speak these words in a sermon: “Don’t jump off the train when going through a tunnel.” It hit us like a ton of bricks. Not the train, thankfully, but the realization of not doing anything. Not doing anything? I am a doer. Not doing anything seemed wrong. We had to do something. Anything.
We had been trying to solve the situation by changing our course or looking for the proverbial greener grass or just taking some kind of action, any kind of action. It was a poignant moment in the life of our family. By God’s grace, He helped us to pause, trust, and do the hardest thing of all. Do nothing and wait.
I am not a patient person. Waiting is hard. I don’t want to wait. I constantly want to be in motion, to feel like I am doing something. Accomplishing something. But God continues to teach me to wait on Him and to trust in His ways even when–especially when—I can’t see the way forward and I don’t understand.
So, the labyrinth it is. Trust God even when it feels like all we are doing is meandering through a maze or wandering in the wilderness. Trust God with His perfect timing and His perfect plans. His ways are right and true.
By Stephanie Boss, CCS 5th Grade teacher