Silent Witnesses

The past week or so has been quite the spectacle if you’re a fan of Judge Judy or The Jerry Springer Show. As our “justice” system did its own version of Soviet show trials, its brightest anti-Trump heroines were revealed to be caricatures of feminine courage. Their testimonies were not truthful, unless you wanted to know Fani Willis’ favorite alcohol—Grey Goose, in case you missed it.

Regardless of your feelings about the ever-triggering Trump, it’s disheartening to see our Constitution trampled under the new and dangerous precedents of lawfare. Gone is the idea of presumed innocence or evidence of harm; we will perhaps all be prosecuted with no evidence at all. Gone is the fear of perjury; a witness may tell lies comfortably if they please the political Left. Gone is the idea that a testimony must bear a resemblance to truth.

Of course, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Men of every political persuasion across time have have lied and cheated to evade justice; today’s wicked elites have simply removed its shame. We join the millennia of the disappointed; in the seventh century B.C., Habakkuk wrote, “So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.”

Despite all this racket and ruin, though, a far better testimony still prevails. Unlike that of our show trials, it isn’t full of crude drama and shameless deceptions, and it’s offered by trustworthy, expert witnesses. No artful arrangements or executive privilege will escape its revelations, and no conflicting testimony will undermine its validity.

I was reminded of this testimony a few nights ago, when I opened our French doors on a crisp night, hoping to cool the house before bedtime. I stepped out onto our cold deck and looked into the oddly quiet darkness, feeling like I’d emerged from a wardrobe into Narnia. Just a couple feet past the threshold, a velvety universe hung over our yard in contented silence; the backwoods beyond were suddenly the Black Forest. I looked up, and—directly overhead—another surprise; it turned out that, while I was cooking, cleaning, and doing busy things in the glow of lightbulbs, a bunch of stars had gathered nonchalantly overhead. Another world was suspended in cosmic majesty, unbothered by the artificial glow of my household hubbub.

I used to spend far more hours outside around here; during Covid’s long pause, I spent many happy days gardening under the sun, and many weeks hacking a trail through our woods. Yet in the resumption of busy routines and harried days, I had forgotten that above those same woods, celestial wonders continued their nightly work—and mercifully, with none of the grumpy fatigue that plagued my own. Within that starry sphere sat silent witnesses of the holy God whose unshakable grip still sustains the universe he framed—however grim our side of the heavens looks.

We are prone to getting lost in the louder-but-lesser voices—the witnesses that blur the facts. The day’s depressing headlines grab our attention, immersing us in the noise of politics, crime and technology. Our jobs and errands send us scurrying here and there in a long line of little ants, racing the clock and carrying loads through clogged intersections. There are a few other hassles, too—appliances break, kids misbehave, or our bodies fail. With all that, we are the grand and tragic witnesses to our own very important story—which, as often is the case, is told in carefully curated social media posts.

If only we could bottle up that evening sky! As quickly as stars fade with the morning light, so does their peaceful testimony, and we begin a new day of mortal combat. Maybe we steal an hour of quiet in those promising early hours; yet after lunchtime, the gloves must finally come off. Trials and temptations begin making the rounds, and we must either succomb to their blows or fight them with the counsel of God—his truthful testimony written not just in nature, but in the pages of his word.

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