It is easy to get overwhelmed by dark circumstances around us. I heard a quote recently that experiencing five negative things in a row causes sadness or depression. Just watching the news easily fills that quota: the mass kidnapping of school girls in Nigeria, youth stabbings, school shootings, local fires, robberies, terrorism, etc. And everyone experiences personal pain or disillusionment, health issues, loss, lies, rudeness, being snubbed, cut off in traffic, ignored, scammed, gypped, etc. The list goes on and also includes our own short-comings. I have found during the dark and difficult days, I need to turn to the gospel of John.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness.” (John 1:1-5a).
John acknowledges that darkness is real. There is spiritual darkness and evil, ranging from the small to the horrendous, little lies and mass murders, lack of empathy and pure hatred. Yet he also shows the bigger picture. The eternal God purposefully enters this darkness and gives light. Jesus entered the world to become a light, shining with hope. What is this light? It is new life (v.4), grace, truth (v.14), salvation (v. 29), love, sacrifice, eternity, forgiveness (3:16), goodness, justice (5:28-30), fulfillment, purpose, satisfaction of spiritual hunger and thirst (6:35), and more.
God enters our world; he seeks us out, and offers another way to live. Our troubles do not disappear, but he offers an alternative. Instead of being overcome by evil we see his goodness, instead of seeing a world of hate we experience his love, instead of chaos: his plan, instead of lies: his truth, and instead of despair: hope. Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever believes in me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (8:12)
And we are called to shine. “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.” Luke 11:33. Having seen God’s light and put our faith in him, we become the lampstands to contain his light. We go out in the world with this amazing gift, God’s light to give to the world. I find it astonishing that God entrusts us with his light. But he does, and he uses it, despite our weaknesses and frailties, to bring others hope.