Say something, I’m giving up on you,
I’ll be the one if you want me to
Anywhere I would have followed you
Say something, I’m giving up on you.
These lyrics by Ian Axel of Great Big World, sung by Christina Aguilera, have invaded the radio. Youtube is flooded with covers of this song. And as I discovered this past Sunday, all the students in my middle school Sunday school class know all the words.
This song reverberates within my soul in a personal way, for it expresses the doubts that I feel about God. Does God speak? Does God actually interact in human history? How can we know what is or what is not God’s action? Where are the miracles and signs of the apostles? “Say something, I’m giving up on you.” God, just say something. Speak in a way that I know it’s you. I would have followed you to the ends of the earth, and I still will, I just need to hear you say something. Say anything.
Where does God speak in this world? How does God speak in this world? Does God even say anything at all?
March 15th and 16th was the Jewish feast of Purim. This feast celebrates the dramatic story of Esther, the Jewish woman who became queen and saved her entire people. The Jewish people are in exile, in captivity, oppressed by foreign nations. Their temple is destroyed, they have lost their king, and they have lost their freedom. I can’t help but imagine, some of them were singing their own fifth century B.C.E. version of “Say Something.”
The book of Esther is unique, for nowhere in its ten chapters does the name of God appear. But does that mean that God is absent from the story? No. Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, tells the queen, “Who knows? Maybe all of these things have happened for such a time as this.” Maybe God was behind Esther becoming queen. Maybe God was behind the preservation of the Jewish people. Maybe.
One of the traditions of Purim is to wear masks and costumes. This symbolizes the fact that often the work of God is masked or hidden. From our place in history, from our place epistemologically, from our place as finite creatures, we cannot peel back the mask, point and identify unequivocally what is the work of God. But that does not mean that God is not at work. That does not mean that God does not speak. Who know? Perhaps God has brought about the circumstances in my life for just such a time as this.