Once a year the school where I work at has the word ‘chaos’ bandied around, all over the show. We hear about chaos in the daily notices, in the passing chatter of the students and in small group discussions. Chaos is everywhere. For the middle and senior schools, ‘Khaos’ is an elaborate game of hunt ’em down tag. Students from across those year groups are matched with another student and once they are successfully tagged, their target is passed on and on and so forth. There’s supposed to be an elaborate prize for the overall winner, which comes from everyone’s participation fee – but rumour has it, that’s a myth…..You know how rumours go.
Chaos, chaos, chaos has stuck around all of our worlds a little longer this year. For some it’s never really gone away.
I don’t know about you, but my social media feed is full of posts with people really feeling the effects of how chaotic the world feels. Our hearts are wrenched with the recent and ongoing atrocities in Afghanistan. Our lives here in New Zealand are disrupted again by the nationwide level four lockdown we’ve been plunged into this week by the pandemic. A student I work very closely with, buried his Mum at the start of the week. Two dear friends have extremely ill parents in hospital at the moment. C, H. A. O. S. I won’t go on – but you’ll all be very aware of all the unease and darkness in your own spheres of influence.
A couple of weeks ago in one of my uni lectures the lecturer told us about an example of chaos in the bible, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
In Genesis One, also known as the ‘Creation Story’ we’re told that the heavens and the earth were created and that the earth was void and without form. The Hebrew word for this is Tohu Vavohu (also Tohu wa-bohu) Void and waste. Formless. A chaotic darkness, before light was created. People look at this term and say it’s more than just a voidness – there’s a confusion to the darkness. It’s an abyss of darkness, a primordial chaos.
But here’s the thing – the next thing that God created was indeed light. The vast emptiness was filled. Chaos was brought into a sense or semblance of order.
It could be easy for us all to feel like we’re all in the presence of Tohu Vavohu right now. There are a lot of very confused people right now. There’s a lot of heartache and darkness.
What helps is to look at the creation story and to note – God was still there in the darkness. God was there and God was very near.
God is still here, in our darkness. God is here and He is near.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
You are near, O Lord,
And all Your commandments are truth.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He who vindicates Me is near;
Who will contend with Me?
When Tohu vavohu was mentioned in the creation story, God was not finished yet. The chaos was a part of the whole time-frame of creation, but it wasn’t the end point.
We need to remember that God’s not finished with our present.
My lecturer explained that this chaotic darkness, this tohu vavohu never really goes away completely. At times it becomes more apparent, it is ‘triggered’ in a sense. And that’s when it’s our job to point the way to Jesus – point the way to hope. To remember that the one who holds the whole world is holding you.
And sometimes that remembering of God’s awesomeness and all powerfulness is easier than at other times, but there are always glimmers of light and love and hope.
Just yesterday I was able to message a chaplain friend of mine who works in a local hospital, and he was able to visit my friend’s Mum. My friend not able to visit under lockdown conditions, but he was. He was able to offer peace and comfort, to both the patient and my friend.
The checking in, from a friend. The posts on social media of practical ways in which we can help the Afghanistan situation. The beauty of nature all around us; the very welcome signs of spring here in the Southern Hemisphere. The whispers of peace when we read God’s word.
Cling to those things of goodness and of delight in your life, when the chaos tries to overwhelm.
Cry out to God when the chaos hurts your heart and your mind and your soul.
And know, that even in the swirl of mess, He is still there. The light will break through.
Photo used with permission – See Through Windows Ltd