In the very beginning God gave us light in the darkness.
And how light changes things. It enables us to live and move when we otherwise could not. It pushes back our fears, but also the dark forces that threaten us. And it widens our field of vision to see beyond ourselves. In these turbulent days, I find myself longing for more light.
I am thrown off kilter right now if I stop to consider how radically our world has changed in so brief a time. Turbulence rolls across America in Biblical proportions: A pandemic. Violence in the streets from Portland, Oregon to little Kenosha, Wisconsin. Wild fires. Shootings. Unrest. Exploitation. Discord. Enmity. It’s nearly impossible to read the Bible and not hear its echoes today:
In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having he appearance of godliness, but denying its power.2 Timothy 3: 1-5
There will be earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.Luke 21:11
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12
And as darkness has rolled in, many of our sources of light and beauty have been overshadowed. I was humming a song this morning when I realized sadly that the show it came from is no longer playing. So much beauty left our world in an instant…and threatens never to return. Our churches are closed. Theaters and museums are closed. And our ability to gather with friends and loved ones, with all the joy that brings, has been significantly curtailed.
With fall approaching, it seems that even the mornings are in cahoots, taking ever longer to break through the darkness to bring the light (and mercies) of a new day.
Throughout Scripture, God allows these things to happen. He has allowed plagues and pestilence, fires and natural disasters, famine and war. They are consequences of the sins of a free and rebellious humanity. They are a reminder that the things of this world are indeed passing away. And they are a sign that our hope is not found here in the flesh, but in things above…from where the light emanates.
I am one of those people who sees a correlation between today’s calamities and America setting aside its foundation as a country founded on Judeo-Christian principles. I believe that our rights as human beings were given to us by God, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, birth rights that we’ve treated with disdain and scorn. Like Esau, we mourn what we’ve so foolishly forsaken, yet remain stubbornly unwilling to repent of the self-indulgent attitudes that got us here.
Fortunately, God did not bring light just once in the Bible. He repeatedly called his people back to the light:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.2 Chronicles 7:14
The good news is that light has already come. Jesus, the son-light, came into the world to defeat the forces of death and darkness:
In him was life, and that life was the light of al mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:4-5
Let us be mindful today, as Isaiah prophesied and was fulfilled in Matthew, that:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16
And so even today, especially today, let us seek to walk as children of the light, because that is what we are:
If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.1 John 1:6
But remember that while this is and should be a comfort to us, God did not invite us into his light for our comfort alone, but to be a light to others who are still living in the darkness, that they too may see the light and discover the hope found in Jesus alone:
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
In the same way, let your light shine before others that they may se your good needs and glorify your Father in heaven.Matthew 5: 14, 16