by Naseem Khalili
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.
There’s something amazingly freeing about letting go of the notion that there is an “end date” to the madness, a specific day when things will take a turn for the better, or some outcome will be 100% certain. Here we are in the last month of the calendar year, and yet there is still so much uncertainty ahead of us. This year it was a pandemic, tragic losses of life, racial injustice, forest fires, and political division to name a few. Who knows what next year will bring?
A mentor of mine mentioned that the endurance required during this season reminded her of a long-term missions trip. There will come a point probably at the 7th or 8th month mark where you begin to feel like you’re running on empty. You might question if you made the right decision. Maybe you aren’t seeing tangible “fruit” from the ministry just yet. Maybe you feel like God is distant or checked out. Maybe you’re tired. And it’s at that moment where truth is so key.
We’re being stretched. Continuously.
This year has brought waves of emotion and experience. Waves of delight in the simple pleasures of life, like taking a walk through my neighborhood and admiring the autumn leaves or reading a good book with a cozy blanket. There have also been waves of sadness, loss, grief, and questioning. I notice God loosening my desire for control, answers, and things working out on my timetable. Being a very scheduled, “Type A” sort of gal, I know God has seen me squirming. I don’t know how or when this season of discomfort will end or pan out. And yet, in the uncertainty, I find clarity in the certainty that God is stretching me. And I long to lean into that and let this truth anchor me. An understanding of God’s character is crucial to this moment in our lives.
The God who broods
There’s something about the word brood (or broody) that’s always stuck out to me. If you’re a millennial, you most likely attribute this word to a broody teenager, usually overcome with the emotions and angst of their so-called life. Did you know that God broods over you and I? In the very first chapter of the Bible, we learn that the Spirit of God was brooding over creation before He made us. I love the way Eugene Peterson translates it in the Message:
“First this: God created the Heavens and Earth — all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.” (Genesis 1:1-2).
The word brood here is the Hebrew word “rachaf” which translates: to hover, to spread over (with wings), or to cover. In the English language we commonly use the word to refer to the way a mother hen would “brood over” her chicks to protect and warm them before they hatch. We see Jesus using this exact imagery to convey the tender care he felt towards Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37.
The same God who brooded over the unformed earth and intentionally created you and I, broods over us in this moment.
The same God that was up to something then is up to something now.
He won’t leave us in a soup of nothingness or inky blackness. His mind dwells on us uninterruptedly and constantly.
There can be great clarity amidst the uncertainty.
As I’m searching for direction, I come to the end of myself and to the beginning of Jesus. He broods over me with care and concern, and I want to nestle deep into that truth. In a world that weighs me down with its heaviness, I can take on His yoke that is easy and light. And I am promised a peace that transcends all understanding. That clarity is priceless. I can be at peace with uncertainty because I am certain of his presence. So as I continue being stretched, I can simultaneously rest in the freedom that He hovers over me and refines me even through the fire.
No matter what uncertainty lies ahead, the promise of God’s character brings rest and clarity to my restless heart. He has promised hope for the future, and the anchoring gift of his own presence for every moment between now and then.
Bio: Naseem Khalili is a San Francisco Bay Area native who works as the Connections & Communications Director at Awakening Church. In addition to freelance writing, Naseem loves empowering and discipling women, nerding out on the Enneagram (she's a 2w3) and hosting her 90’s pop culture podcast. You can follow her on Instagram and listen to the Nas-Talgia podcast here.