These last few weeks for me have been a strange contrast of darkness and light, confusion and clarity, discouragement and hope. And as I've faced each extreme, I've been pondering what it means, in a practical sense, to place my hope fully in GOD -- not in circumstances, not in these ups and downs, not in trying to make sense of things that don't make sense. I've been thinking of what it means to walk in hope and light even when life is discouraging and dark.
And while I've pondered and grown in my understanding, I found this story that happened a few years ago to be helpful in my journey. I hope you'll find it useful too as you walk in whatever darkness is before you, and learned to trust the light even in the dark.
It happened like this:
The house shuddered. The wind rattled against the windows. Outside, lightning flashed against a pitch-black sky. I huddled beneath my blanket and flipped the television station to the news.
The TV flickered.
So did the lights.
Then, everything went dark.
My husband, Bryan, shifted in his chair. “Power’s out.” He got up and turned the television to “off.” Then he flipped the light switches. “Guess we should just head to bed. Good thing we got ready early.”
I gripped by blanket tighter and squinted into the darkness. I could almost make out the outline of his chair. “Do you have a flashlight over there?”
I huffed. “So I can see where I’m going between here and our room, of course.”
Bryan sighed. “Come on. Just get up and go. It’s not that far.”
“But it’s dark.”
“You should be able to get between here and there with your eyes closed.”
I tossed aside the blanket and stood up. But the shadows didn’t become any lighter, or clearer. “Oh, okay, you’re right.” After all, I told myself, I’d walked between here and the bedroom hundreds of times before. Still, I wished there had been a little more light.
I took a step forward, then another. A moment later, I navigated around the coffee table, around a chair, through the doorway, skirted the dresser, and reached my side of the bed.
Bryan was already on his side. I could sense him grinning in the darkness. “See, told ya.”
I crawled into bed then glanced back into the shadows. I could nearly see the outline of the dresser, but not the chair on the far side of the door. There, it was completely black. And yet, I’d walked that distance without running into the furniture or stubbing my toe or hitting a wall. Bryan was right. I’d been able to cross the distance not because I could see, but because I’d been that way before. Because I remembered in the dark what I had seen in the light.
As I lay there in bed, listening to the thunder, I thought about how walking through my home in a power outage is similar to walking through the dark times of life. There are times life when I just can’t see what’s ahead. When life gets dark and confusing. Jobs change. Kids move out. Tragedy strikes. Friendships crumble. Doubts rise. Fears whisper. Choices present themselves. And I know I must move forward, but I can’t see the way.
It’s at those times that I need to remember that even if I haven’t faced these exact circumstances, I have walked this way before. I’ve seen God’s love, mercy, guidance, truth in the light. I’ve known I can trust Him. I’ve believed He will lead me aright. There have been times when doubts didn’t rage, when I saw prayers answered, and gifts of His love to me in my everyday life.
I’ve walked through darkness before too. And I’ve seen that He is faithful, that He won’t leave me or forsake me, and that not even doubt, darkness, or confusion can separate me from the love of God.
Perhaps that’s why Hebrews 10:32 (NIV) says, “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.” The Hebrew writer calls readers to remember both the light and how they stood fast despite the darkness So, too, we are called to remember God’s truth in our own lives, and how He has been faithful to us when we faced times of trial. He has helped us find our way before, when the lights went out.
So now when I face times of confusion and darkness, I remind myself that if walked this way before, and I can navigate through if only I remember in the darkness what I saw in the light. If only I remember that God has brought me through “lights out” times before. And of course, it helps to recall that the power won’t stay out forever … before too long, the lights will come on again.