June 8, 2013

Seeing in the dark

Long ago, I knew a Christian woman who was blind. Many times others encouraged her to pray for healing or go forward at services where such prayer was offered. She always refused. Even now, I still wonder if she knew something that the rest of us did not. What could she “see” in her blindness that made her accept this affliction without murmuring?

Today’s devotional is about light in the dark, about God’s grace to give understanding in the midst of trouble and sorrow. The author says that for Christians, the darkness in which we sometimes walk “is not impenetrable gloom, and the night — thank God — has stars.”

Light dawns in the darkness for the upright…For the righteous will never be moved…. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. (Psalm 112:4–7)

One beam of light that helps me in the dark is those simple but unbending physical laws of the universe. Sometimes these laws of nature work tragically, yet imagine a world without them. It would be a madhouse if cause and effect were erratic and capricious, so even in darkness this is something I can count on.

Another star in the dark is the interrelatedness of humanity. Of course, when one person acts like a fool, others lives are affected and even injured, or if one country charges into folly, the rest of the world could and usually does suffer, yet our mutual interdependence is also responsible for life’s greatest delights. We cannot share the blessings of connecting with others and avoid the risks, but life would be dark indeed without relationships.

A third light is God’s impartiality. Some think that is not a light at all, and that bad things should not happen to good people, nor should evil people have any benefits. Many Christians think that they should escape the problems that affect others. It seems unfair that innocent people suffer while those who deserve troubles do not experience any of life’s blows. Yet try to imagine a world where religion “got you off.” Faith would be a commercial transaction, a bargaining chip that would ruin it and our character. We are far better to grow strong in our faith when we experience troubles than to seek righteousness for any reason except for righteousness’ sake alone.

I never knew what went on in that blind lady’s head, but I do know the things that sustain me when nothing makes sense. I know that God is good, even when my experiences scream otherwise. The dark cannot hide that light. He sent His Son to die on the cross for my sin; that is goodness and a goodness that cannot be undone or changed, or even covered over with dark clouds.

I also know that I belong to Him. That is true because He grabbed hold of me and will not let me go. I squirm and resist Him at times, but my belonging is never about what I do or don’t do, what I feel or don’t feel. It is about John 3:16, about that Calvary event. History was at its darkest when sinful men killed their Creator without realizing or understanding that in that very act, they were also doing what would save them from the wrath of God. God shone in that very worst situation — and that is why “even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You.” (Psalm 139:12)

I marvel is that when all is dark, God’s beams of light shine brighter than they do in the daytime, just as the stars in the night sky. That could be the reason why that blind woman had no desire to be healed. 

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