Dr. John W. Telman
We get up each day with darkness surrounding us. It’s evil and sin of great proportions that you might be tempted to go back to bed. Depending upon the time of year or when you wake up, you will often be faced with another kind of darkness. Where I grew up, during the winter, the sun would not rise for at least a couple of hours after I woke. Shortened days and the lack of sun has been proven to be a cause of psychological and physical problems. In fact, some colleges will give a week off in February because a lack of sunshine causes depression and even suicidal thoughts. Vitamin D deficiency is also due to a lack of sunshine. I remember feeling the frustration of darkness and longed for the spring when the sun would lengthen the day. Then some years later, we lived in Singapore which is near the equator. The sun rises and sets consistently within a few minutes. Days are from 7:00 am until 7:00 pm.
In a more dangerous way, darkness surrounds us. Evil is described in scripture as darkness and those who choose to sin are said to walk in darkness (Psalm 82:5; Proverbs 2:13; John 3:19; Romans 13:12). In fact, often the works of evil are done in darkness to hide sinful acts. It’s also common to describe someone as being “dark” denoting a gloomy, depressive and possibly a dangerous person.
Darkness is where injuries happen. I have bruised many toes trying to walk in a dark room but when I reach for the light, I can finally see where objects are in my path. Darkness is more than a time of stopping for rest. Many who work at night are surrounded by darkness and sleep during the day. I too worked night shifts and found them to be stressful both physically and mentally. The good news is that no matter how foreboding darkness may be the sun always seems to eventually light the day. Clouds may block out the warmth and beauty of the sun but only temporarily.
In contrast to the darkness, God is described in scripture as light. Jesus called himself the light of the world (John 8:12). The Light of the World does not condemn but brings understanding. All of us have made choices to sin and turn our backs on the Creator but he reaches out in love. No one can hide from his blinding knowledge of our waywardness. He also knows everything about us and is equipped to shed light on all that concerns us.
Like Job, we also have questions for God. Job lost his family, his wealth and his health. All of us experience pain and loss (darkness). Job did too and he didn’t understand so he had questions for God. In chapters 38-41 God answers Job with a description of who he is. God did not defend himself by saying Satan asked to test Job. Instead God shed light on who he is. It’s so complete and overwhelming that Job said, I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. The Hebrew word for “sees” is raah, which means that Job understood. He had an aha moment! We may not understand why things happen, but God knows. He is all-knowing, all -powerful and is loving, so we can fully trust him when life hits us between the eyes.
None of us will walk into a room and curse the darkness and say things like “wow is it ever dark in here”. We will simply flip a switch. If we can apply this metaphor to life in general, flipping the switch is acknowledging God and exalting him right in the middle of trouble. The best way to rid darkness in our lives is to allow the light of the world to make darkness run.
When you switch on the light there is no opposition. The darkness cannot resist. It leaves and so does evil and trouble when we invite Jesus Christ into our darkness. So when confronted with darkness of many kinds we respond by turning our attention to the light of the world. We don’t focus our attention on the darkness. Rather, we begin to worship the one who made the sun!
As a pastor, I have counselled many people who were facing darkness. Sickness, threats and problems of all manner dropped a cloud of darkness over their lives. Instead of focusing on the darkness together we focused on the light of the world, Jesus Christ. It is truly amazing to see people come out of the darkness into his glorious light! It’s also a good approach to not give attention to the darkness by dwelling on it. We can enjoy the light as we face it and turn our backs on the darkness.
In a prophecy about the coming of Jesus Christ, Isaiah wrote, “the people who walk in darkness will see a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). To know God, we look at Jesus. He’s the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Hebrews 1:3)
Saul of Tarsus was on his way to Damascus. He had ruthlessly targeted followers of Jesus. Suddenly a “light” from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting Me? And he said, who are you Lord? And He said, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:3-5)
Saul is also called Paul in scripture and was changed into a preacher of Jesus Christ. Years later, he wrote from a Roman prison, I count all things to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them rubbish so that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)
Paul knew that following the Light of the World was far greater than anything else. In his letter to the Colossian church, Paul wrote that God rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
(Colossians 1:13, 14)
Focusing on the darkness is fruitless. When darkness seems to envelop your life, call upon the light of the world and walk in the knowledge that he will light your way as your eyes are fixed on him. Constantly we can know the warmth and benefits of the Son by talking to him and by surrendering our lives to him.