Augustine: My God, Where Are You?

I also say: My God, where are you? I see you are there, but I sigh for you a little (Job 32: 20) when I ‘pour out my soul upon myself in the voice of exultation and confession, the sound of one celebrating a festival’ (Ps. 41: 6). Yet still my soul is sad because it slips back and becomes a ‘deep’, or rather feels itself still to be a deep. My faith, which you have kindled to be a light before my feet (Ps. 118: 105) in the night, says to it: ‘Why are you sad, soul, and why do you disturb me? Hope in the Lord’ (Ps. 41: 6). ‘His word is a light to your feet’ (Ps. 118: 105). Hope and persevere until the night passes which is the mother of the wicked, until the Lord’s wrath passes, whose sons we also once were (Eph. 2: 3).

We were ‘once darkness’ (Eph. 5: 8), the remnants of which we bear in the body which ‘is dead because of sin’ (Rom. 8: 10), ‘until the day breathes and the shadows are removed’ (Cant. 2: 17). ‘Hope in the Lord. In the morning I will stand up and will contemplate you. I will ever confess to him. In the morning I will stand and I will see the salvation of my face’ (Ps. 41: 6–12), my God ‘who shall vivify even our mortal bodies through the Spirit who dwells in us’ (Rom. 8: 11). For in mercy he was ‘borne above’ the dark and fluid state, which was our inward condition. From him during this wandering pilgrimage, we have received an assurance that we are already light (Eph. 5: 8).

While still in this life, we are ‘saved by hope’ (Rom. 8: 24) and are ‘sons of light’ and sons of God, ‘not sons of the night and of darkness’ (1 Thess. 5: 5) which we once were. In this still uncertain state of human knowledge, you alone mark the difference between them and us. You test our hearts (Ps. 16: 3) and call light day and darkness night (Gen. 1: 5). Who can distinguish between us except you? But ‘what do we possess which we have not received’ from you? (1 Cor. 4: 7). From the same stuff some vessels are made for honourable functions and others are made for dishonourable uses (Rom. 9: 21).

-Augustine, Book XIII, xiv (15)

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