Darkness is a powerful thing.
I had the opportunity once, to be deep down in some caverns, and it was beyond dark. So dark that I could feel it. Deep underground, there was nowhere for even the tiniest fraction of light to get in, and I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I held on tight to the handrail, waiting for the lights to come up, and when the light from a single flashlight came on, it shone brightly! I couldn’t help but to look straight at it and be drawn toward it.
Have you ever been in total darkness like that? Have you ever been in a time of life that felt like that? No light from anywhere to help you see your way? Holding tightly, desperate for the smallest glimmer to guide you out of the dark hole you were stuck in?
Heavy and silent darkness.
Matthew 5:14-16 says “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Let your light shine before others.
When we know God, and we know His son Jesus, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and we have a light inside of us. That light is from God, and is meant to be used to draw others out of darkness and into the true light. To be a beacon when they feel lost, scared, and overwhelmed. To bring hope to their heart in a time of discouragement.
I have been in this kind a situation. I was scared and overwhelmed, and in need of hope.
In January of 2015, my third grandson was born, and what a glorious day that was! We rejoiced with his parents after a difficult labor and delivery. His daddy was so proud that he took the first selfie of his life, so he could show off his first-born son! We stayed FAR into the night to be able to visit with his mommy after recovering, and the exhaustion on her face was only masked by the joy she felt over her first born baby!
But 3 days later, things drastically changed. We all had to come to grips with a diagnosis for the baby. A congenital (or from birth) heart defect, one that required he be immediately airlifted to a children’s hospital 100 miles away. He would be facing almost immediate open-heart surgery. Mommy was overwhelmed and grieving. Daddy was scared and doing everything in his power to support his wife. And as grandparents, we were all in shock, literally groping in the darkness for a way to be a help and support. All the while, each of us was suffering anguish over what our new grandbaby, as well as his poor parents (our own children!) would be facing. It all seemed to much. Our hearts were heavy. We moved as robots. We prayed, and just kept putting one foot in front of the other, with no other options.
Darkness. Thick and silent.
John 12:35 says that “whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going” Simple truth. When you are in darkness, all you see is darkness. You can’t see where you are going, because there is no light.
In that time of darkness, there were those around us, who chose to be a light. They brought their flashlight of love into our dark day, and shone it brightly toward us, so that we could follow the light, and would not be alone in the dark.
They stepped out of the comfort of their own lives, and plunged into our despair, and they shone the light of love brightly! That light was a beacon of hope and focus that we needed so desperately to see our way through that time.
They texted encouraging words, they sent cards, they called (remember when people used to do that?). They brought meals, they gave financially, they did laundry, they brought groceries, and they brought gifts. But mostly, they loved richly.
They shone their light on us.
People in a dark situation feel trapped. Their normal is completely disrupted. Their days are uncertain and unstructured. They don’t always know what to do with their own feelings. They try to pray but they don’t know how. The want to believe that God is good, but they hurt. They want so badly for the darkness to go away, and they worry it will overtake them. Often times, the words don’t come. They are replaced with tears of frustration by the people closest to them who are struggling and suffering with the same feelings. Perspective becomes difficult. It’s like the blind leading the blind.
Matthew reminds us to “let your light shine before others”.
Lights in a dark place give:
In our humanity, we can sometimes think that reaching out is intrusive. We feel like others can encourage better than we can. We assume that someone else is already helping. We are “afraid to say the wrong thing” or “bring it up” if they are doing ok right then. We hold back, sometimes out of misguided pride or fear. But I am here to tell you that these are lies from the enemy! If God tells us to “be a light” then that’s what we need to be doing.
As someone who experienced people shining light into my darkness, I can promise you that I appreciated every single person. I didn’t wish they had “left me alone” or felt that what they said to love and encourage us was “the wrong thing”. It all felt like love. Every bit of it. And, collectively, it was THE most loved I have ever felt in my life. Each text, message, card and phone call came out of love and was received with love. The bright light of loved reached into the deepest recesses of my darkness, and chased it away.
And I learned something.
I realized that I had been that other person in the past. Not wanting to intrude, not knowing what to say (so I said nothing), thinking someone else was going to help them, feeling like what I had to say probably didn’t matter that much anyway. Or that others had something “more” to give than I did. So I didn’t shine my light. I held back. I let pride tell me that those people might be better loved on by someone else. And I missed out. I missed out on an opportunity to bear light. A light that brings peace. A light that chases darkness away. A light of love.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage each other and build each other up…” The lord knows that we need a boost of love and encouragement from each other. He understands our human frailty. Jesus, being fully God and fully man, understood our hurts and our need for courage giving words. So don’t be afraid to give them.
Say the words on your heart.
Love with meaning and timely purpose.
And shine brightly into someone’s darkness.
When you or I follow our heart toward the need of another, we are always blessed, often as much as they are. Face it, it just plain feels good to make a difference in someone’s hurt! To bring hope and love. When we do, we are functioning as the church, the body of believers, the family of God. We are fulfilling our purpose. We are doing something here on earth to ease the pain of another. That is something that is not necessary in heaven, but is SO necessary here.
So my question to you is, whose darkness are you choosing to shine your light into?
Isaiah 58:10 “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.”