When The Darkness Is Deepest

Maybe God is punishing us. Or maybe he’s just allowing us to deal with the natural consequences of our rebellion against him. I don’t know. He hasn’t told me. But we don’t need a special word to know that we are living in dark times. That much is obvious. Here’s the thing about darkness. You’ve probably heard it said before. Light shines brightest when the darkness is deepest.

Christians should be leading the way in calling attention to and fighting against the darkness. But, if we’re not careful, we will find ourselves in danger. We can become so consumed with the darkness that surrounds us that we forget about the light that is in us (Matthew 5:16). And as a result we can develop a reputation of only being against certain issues while never really being for anything. Okay, so maybe we’re already there. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. We can change.

No matter how dark things are, God is always working. And he is always good. If we really want to see his good work, we just have to pay attention. Whether we notice it or not, God’s grace and mercy, his love and goodness, are on display in millions of ways each day.

Like the smile of a small boy. This morning, I wanted to hug my son and tell him that I love him. So I did. He was sitting at the table and eating carrots. As I walked away from him he made a request.

“Dad, I want to go hunting with you and I want to use my bare hands just like you.”

He smiled.

Apparently my kid thinks that I can kill an elk with my bare hands. He doesn’t need to know the truth just yet.

This is God’s grace. It is a light in a dark world.

Consider also the followers of Christ whom God has placed in key leadership positions. Men like Al Mohler. Mohler is the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Earlier this week he gave an address at Brigham Young University, Mormonism’s central institution of higher learning. One might expect someone in Mohler’s position to water down his beliefs and deliver a lecture on how faith in something is good enough for salvation and, therefore, Mormons and Christians are one in Christ.

That didn’t happen.

“I am not here because I believe we are going to heaven together. I do not believe that. I believe that salvation comes only to those who believe and trust only in Christ and in his substitutionary atonement for salvation. I believe in justification by faith alone, in Christ alone. I love and respect you as friends, and as friends we would speak only what we believe to be true, especially on matters of eternal significance. We inhabit separate and irreconcilable theological worlds, made clear with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity. And yet here I am, and gladly so. We will speak to one another of what we most sincerely believe to be true, precisely because we love and respect one another.”

Mohler’s combination of love, truth and courage is another reminder of God’s grace. Yet another light in a dark world.

There are thousands of others like Al Mohler. Men and women who you may not agree with on every issue but who stand tall with their feet firmly planted in the truth. There are even men and women like that in Washington D.C. It is not my intention to name names. That would only lead to partisan bickering. We should just remember that God is not confined to working in and through one political party. He isn’t intimidated by the godlessness of cities like Washington D.C. Just as he did thousands of years ago through people like Joseph, Daniel and Esther, God has people who are representing him in dark political arenas.

They are reminders of God’s grace. They are lights in a dark world.

I do not know what the future holds for our country. I do know that the present is quite dark. But that just serves as a greater opportunity for the Light to shine. You can see it in the smiling faces of a husband and wife who have been married for 50 years. You can see it in the perseverance of a young woman who clings to Jesus after another miscarriage.

They are all reminders of God’s grace. They are lights in a dark world.

And they remind us of a world that awaits those who have put their faith in Christ. A world where there is no darkness because it has been finally and forever defeated by the Light.

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 21:23-27 (ESV)