The Light Shines in the Darkness
[Originally published in the Monroe News on December 11, 2020]
I’m guessing you know that feeling of walking into a darkened room, completely pitch-black, and fumbling around trying to find your way. You probably move slowly to avoid any painful encounters with furniture or the stubbing of a toe. You’ll put your arms and hands out in front of you to feel for anything that might offer a sense of place or direction. This kind of darkness creates a sense of unknown.
I’ve never minded the dark much myself. In fact I quite enjoy spending time outside in late evenings or even early mornings. While climbing mountains out west we would regularly have 4am starts at trailheads making our way along darkened trails following a single beam of light from a headlamp. Such experiences help you see just how reliant we are on the light. A sense of helplessness is often close at hand when contemplating what would happen if that single light would go out. Needless to say, we always bring extra batteries!
We could apply this idea of darkness and uncertainty to how we look at time and the future. When we look ahead to tomorrow and everyday thereafter it might be like looking into the pitch black darkness. The future is unpredictable, uncertain, unknown to us. If we’ve learned anything here in this year of 2020 that would have to be near the top of the list.
Imagine what was going through your mind back in January 2020. What plans, visions, predictions would you have had for this year? Did those predictions include a global pandemic, stay-at-home orders, and maybe most shocking of them all, toilet paper shortages? It really makes you wonder, if we could have known what the future held back in January, would we have wanted to know? Would you really want to know everything that is still to come, both good and bad?
As a parent I’ve played with this question about my own children. If I could know what their future held, would I want to know? Would I want to see their future spouse, or possible grandchildren? Would I want to know what their career will be? Would I want to see all the bumps and trials they will encounter along this long path? Maybe we would all answer these questions differently.
In the end, how we might answer such questions is moot as we will never be able to predict tomorrow or gain access to the future. Such things are for God alone. However, this doesn’t mean we walk into tomorrow empty-handed or helpless. While the future is darkened to us there is a bright shining Light which has been given to us like a headlamp illuminating the trail ahead. This true Light shining into the world and even shining a light into our future is none other than Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Gospel of John speaks of Jesus in this way “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (Jn 1:5)” and “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world (Jn 1:9)”. The Light that shines into and overcomes the darkness of this life is Jesus Himself.
Where we walk in the darkness of sin Jesus brings forgiveness. Where we suffer under the darkness of brokenness, tragedy, and suffering, Jesus brings healing, mercy, and grace. And where we tremble at the unknown darkness of the future Jesus shines His light forth giving us certainty in every tomorrow to come.
While it may not be good for us to know what we or our loved ones are going to do in the future, there is one absolute good in knowing the future. This good is when God tells us what He is going to do for us. The Light of the certainty of God shining into the future reveals to us that God’s grace will continue, that Jesus our Savior will return to this earth, and the day of the resurrection approaches with our Lord’s return. Upon these certainties ahead a great Light has shone and in them we can place our hope.
To God be the glory.
Mark Witte is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org