As the days are getting shorter this fall, I can’t help but think back to the long winter nights I experienced as Coast Guard wife living in Homer, Alaska. I could tell a marked difference in my spirit. We lived pretty far south in the state, so on the shortest day of the year, the sun started rising around 10am, and started setting again around 3pm. I’m grateful I wasn’t in the dark any longer than that every day.
Sometimes, though, we can feel like we’re in the dark no matter what time of day it is, can’t we? Maybe it’s uncertainty that blocks our view of the future. Or perhaps the darkness that crowds us comes from disaster, evil, or fear.
There is a line tucked into my upcoming release, A Refuge Assured, that goes like this: “The dark grew less frightening as he learned to look for the light.” It’s referring to a little boy named Henri who has been traumatized by the French Revolution and is afraid to come outside. The heroine, Vivienne, coaxes him out in the evening to catch fireflies. He stepped into the dark because he was looking at the light.
“…he learned to look for the light.” Such simple words, and yet they have been preaching to me lately. Just as Henri learned to look for the light in the darkness, we can too. When acts of terror or injustice threaten to paint the world in deep shades, we can still look for the light. It’s always there, in acts of kindness and grace, in people who sacrificially help their neighbors, in rainbows after the storm. And of course, in God himself.
Psalm 18:28 (NASB) says, “For You light my lamp; The Lord my God illumines my darkness.” The NIV puts it this way: “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” In John 8:12, Jesus tells us that He is the light of the world.
And yet I know that for a variety of reasons, there are times when it seems like the light can grow dim. The fireflies aren’t pinpricking the night with their brightness, so to speak. Dawn seems a long, long way off. Some of you are there right now. May I bring you a word of encouragement? One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 50:10. “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.”
When you can’t see your hand in front of your face, trust in the One who sees it all. He sees you. He knows you, and knows all the details of what you’re experiencing. He’ll carry you through.
When I lived in Homer, Alaska, all the businesses put up Christmas lights in October and they stayed up until March, deliberately dispelling the darkness. And the only time I saw the Northern Lights—neon green brushstrokes across the sky—was in the dead of a winter night. Like the little boy Henri in A Refuge Assured, I learned where to look for the light. Many times, I found it in the smile of a friend, a shared cup of coffee, and quiet moments in prayer. More than we realize it, we can be the light in someone else’s life, too.
What kind of light have you found in the darkness? What bright spots of hope or kindness have lightened your days?