Just a little over a week ago, I was reminded of the darkness in the world. As a minister, I am exposed to darkness pretty often. In my context, it is usually the darkness of parents divorcing, or of loathing yourself so deeply that you want to hurt yourself, or sometimes a darkness of having nowhere to belong. I have experienced darkness in myself too, and I work hard to keep my darkness personal and hidden. I really like to pretend my life has no darkness whatsoever. But darkness seems to always be present. Just recently I, along with many across the world, have entered into a storm of immense power with the passing of one of my middle school students after a battle with cancer.
Our whole community and church has really felt this loss. One of the ministers at my church described the feeling he felt as if he was a disciple on the boat during a storm with Jesus, and he is sleeping through it. They shake him awake and say, “Savior, do you not care?” In the middle of this storm, in the darkness with the shifting wind and waves our community cries out to God, do you not care?
I don’t know why God didn’t answer our prayers the way we wanted him to. I don’t know why eleven-year-olds die. Our world can seem so bleak, like maybe there really isn’t any light at all, but James tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) God didn’t give us this grief, he doesn’t give children cancer, or make mothers say goodbye to their children. He does give us peace, so the grief doesn’t overcome us. He does give us hope, that this world isn’t meaningless. He gives us comfort, letting us know we are not alone. He never left. He doesn’t shift. He is constant.
I wish there was less darkness in this world. But maybe darkness follows light wherever it goes, and we wouldn’t be able to recognize the light if we had never known darkness. Whatever the reason, I am glad that God is the light, and that he doesn’t change. I am grateful that when darkness threatens to overwhelm me, that God is always there waiting to warm me and rejuvenate me. His light is like a bon fire, keeping me warm. His light is like a lighthouse, guiding my way. His light is like a stovetop, by it I am fed. His light is like the sun, by it I can see.
May we be children of the light, unafraid of what darkness can do. May we remember that God too thinks that sin and darkness have had control over his world for too long. May we live inside the hope of the resurrection, and that someday light will triumph over death.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)
Southern Hills Church of Christ