The Light in the Darkness

10/03/17

The Light in the Darkness

When I first had the idea of writing a blog, it was with the thought that I could offer encouraging words to whoever would read it. I feel like I have done a good job of that with each post. However, I am finding it hard to be encouraging today in light of the tragedy that took place in Las Vegas Sunday night.

I awoke Monday to a beautiful morning. The sun was shining through my bedroom window and illuminating the room. I lay there for a few minutes with my dog before finally getting out of bed. My fiancée was coming over to have coffee before she had to go to work. I have Monday’s off, so I had a nice, relaxing day planned. I scrolled quickly through my Facebook, and I kept seeing statuses saying, “Pray for Las Vegas.” I didn’t know what had happened. After Ali left to go to work, I decided to finally check out what had happened and then my heart broke.

This massacre is coming on the heels of what has been a devastating couple of months for this country and beyond. It seems that every day that we turn on the news, there’s more destruction. We have had the hurricanes in Houston, Florida, and the Caribbean. There were fires in the northwest. An earthquake rocked Mexico City. Hopefully, the shooting in Las Vegas is the end of the heartbreak for a little while.

It becomes challenging in times like these to feel particularly encouraged. Even if these events don’t directly impact us, they wear us down. I have heard the question asked, “If God is good, how can He allow this kind of stuff to happen?” This is a sober reminder that we live in a world that has been wrecked by sin. When Adam and Eve ate that first fruit, they didn’t just infect people with sin but the whole world. We see the effects of a fallen world every day. However, it seems to be turned up all the way to ten since late August.

As I struggle through this, I tried to think of anywhere in the Bible that could relate to what we we’ve been going through. It just so happens that I have been teaching through an Old Testament book called Habakkuk with my high schoolers. You’re probably not too familiar with Habakkuk so let me fill you in on what the book is about. Habakkuk is a prophet in Judah (The southern part of Israel after the split) right before Babylon invades and takes over. The whole book (only three chapters) is a back and forth between God and Habakkuk. The prayers of Habakkuk mirror some of what I, and many others, have been feeling recently.

“How long, Lord must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.”(Habakkuk 1:1-3) Does that cry to God sound familiar? I think that Habakkuk has summed up what I have been feeling better than I could ever express myself. Destruction and violence seem to be all around us. We can’t go a day without hearing about it or seeing it. Habakkuk is asking the question of “Where are you, God?” He is having an honest conversation with the Creator. If you look at the title of the section, it’s called “Habakkuk’s complaint.” Have you had an honest conversation with the Creator about how you’re feeling lately? Have you made your true feelings known, as you have prayed to God about the “destruction and violence” before you or have you just been praying the platitudes that you feel that you should say? Be honest with God and tell Him how you feel. He can handle it.

In the second chapter of the book, God proclaims that He doesn’t approve of injustice. I fully believe that God’s heart breaks just like ours when tragedy shakes our foundations. Remember that Jesus wept whenever Lazarus died. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Although He allows these things to happen, that doesn’t mean he approves of them. God loves His creation so much that He was willing to die for them. Never forget that our God is a loving god, even during these times. If your thought is that God should prevent all evil from happening, remember that we all sin. Very few people sin as egregiously as the shooter did on Sunday night but we are all guilty nevertheless. That’s why we are constantly in need of our savior.

This is how Habakkuk ends his back and forth with God,

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. (3:16-19)

He is saying that even though everything seems bad, he will still take his joy and refuge in the Lord. That’s where we need to find ourselves today, even though it isn’t easy. Honestly, it’s when it isn’t easy that we need to cling the tightest to the God of our salvation. He is the only one who can make this right, and He is the only one who can get us through these unbearable times.

In these times where we find encouragement lacking, let us trust in God. This world is a very dark place, and it seems to be getting darker. The only thing that drives out the darkness is light. In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us that, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” It is in the darkest places that a light will shine the brightest. We need to live out our salvation with joy so that all people can see.

The second part of that verse is one that became real to me when I got to be in Israel. I was standing on the ruins of Solomon’s temple in Tel Megiddo looking out across the Jezreel Valley, where the final battle of Armageddon will take place, and I noticed the landscape. Israel is filled with hills and valleys. The quickest way to travel in ancient times was to walk along the valleys, and all of the cities were built on hills as a security strategy. When it would get dark, the valleys would become very dangerous, and you would need to take refuge in one of the cities. You would be able to see the fires in a city from miles away at night, and that would become your safe haven. That is who we are called to be. We are to live our faith out so much that people would be able to recognize the joy and hope inside of us in the darkest of times. Then, they will seek us out, and we can tell them why it is that we still have joy, even in the darkest of days.

I am still heart broken over the state of this world. I find myself longing more and more each day for the new heaven and the new earth that God will create in the end times. A place where there is no strife and no pain. Doesn’t that sound beautiful? That, however, is not where we’re currently living. We are residents of the fallen world for the time being. The Bible says that we are just sojourners in this world, waiting until we can go home to Heaven and be with our perfect and loving father. That is where the Christian’s true citizenship belongs. Until then, let us pray for this world and let us be “the light of the world.” I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Are things going to get darker or is it finally going to be the dawn? Either way, I do know that I have the God of my salvation to lean upon. Let us often go to the foot of the cross and always invite others to join us there.


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