Many of you may be thinking that is the wrong question. Life has been hard for months on so many levels. A virus came and upended the world as we knew it, but that wasn’t all. It crashed the economy, stopped every sweet event we had planned or hoped for, and battered us with one negative news report after another. And if that weren’t enough, personal lives were being hit with all manner of diagnoses beyond the virus, cars were breaking down, house repairs suddenly appeared, and the downward tug on our spirits was worse for lack of fellowship in our places of worship.
In the midst we have heard reminders that we are in the last days before the Lord’s return and that has provoked fear in some and longing in others. Yet we are called to be light in the darkness because as believers the One who resides in us IS light! He is described shining so beautifully in Hebrews:
” He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”
Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)
Today I was reading in 2 Timothy and when I came to the third chapter Paul’s words sounded so much like this season:
“But you need to be aware that in the final days the culture of society will become extremely fierce and difficult for the people of God. 2 People will be self-centered lovers of themselves and obsessed with money. They will boast of great things as they strut around in their arrogant pride and mock all that is right. They will ignore their own families. They will be ungrateful and ungodly.
3 They will become addicted to hateful and malicious slander. Slaves to their desires, they will be ferocious, belligerent haters of what is good and right. 4 With brutal treachery, they will act without restraint, bigoted and wrapped in clouds of their conceit. They will find their delight in the pleasures of this world more than the pleasures of the loving God.”
2 Timothy 3:1-4 (TPT)
We have been living differently for months and most of us thought by now we might be back to what we call “normal,” but we hear more about “new normal” (whatever that is) than we did a few months ago. Some of us might feel a bit like the psalmist when he wrote this:
“But how could we sing the song of the Lord
in this foreign wilderness?”
Psalm 147:4 (TPT)
Perhaps you haven’t felt like we are wandering in the wilderness during this time, but it’s likely that some of you have.
Our challenge is that this is the exact time we are to be light – the world is darker than it was when 2020 began.
There are lots of things that can cause that light to dim or flicker, but perhaps that relates to what we are watching, reading, and listening to. It can depend on whether we are looking to other flawed humans to find a solution – quickly – for everything that is ailing us. Maybe we are caught up in news or reading books to try to become more enlightened and missing the invitation Jesus offers in Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV): “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Maybe we are relying on ourselves again…
Within days of each other, my husband and daughter each had a surgical procedure and our son was diagnosed with lymphoma in a tumor in his deep sinuses and that was not all that was hitting in the midst of sheltering in place due to the virus. I get the challenges. They came to our family and house as well, but they also brought us to our knees and the only source of “good news” that caused our focus to shift from the news and manmade solutions so our hearts’ desires could be for Him above all.
Maybe we get more easily disheartened during this time because we don’t know our history or more truthfully God’s history.
I was listening to a sermon by Dr. Mark Rutland while I was out for a walk. The theme was reviewing some historical markers of how God has shown up in the least likely persons at the darkest of times. It served as a reminder that if our focus is on Him, would we not take hope in that and our lights shine more brightly?
Dr. Rutland included some of our favorite biblical characters like Moses and Ruth, but he included some more recent ones including an unlikely little man with a high pitched nasal voice who failed as a missionary in America, returned home to England in 1738 and was called to lead a church in the midst of an historic dark time when the “gin craze” was at its peak in an unprecedented way. Violence and prostitution of all kinds were rampant as bars in London numbered over 65,000 where one could get drunk for a penny. The clergy were impotent in the face of it all. Yet God chose John Wesley whose in the midst with a message that changed the world. An unlikely choice at a time when darkness was very dark. God surprised the world with light and truth and hope.
But there were other examples as well:
- 1798 the American Revolutionary War is over, the Constitution is set and in the wilds of Tennessee and Kentucky all manner of dangers were happening. It was not a time anyone could expect an awakening back then. It was the wild wild west. Yet on the frontier in little churches revival broke out in a place called Cane Ridge, Kentucky. Thousands of people (20,000) came together without any means to let anyone know and the power of God broke out and changed people and that area.
- 1967 Haight-Ashbury, CA was the scene of the riots that were commonplace during that time. Buildings were being fire-bombed, drugs, prostitution were the norm. No hope was there then and people were discouraged that life would ever improve. It was an unlikely place at an unlikely time. It was a time of great division in America. Then in that time an explosion of revival hit that changed the move of God in an unlikely time and in an unlikely place.
These reminders should adjust our perspective and the direction of our hope. Let us not forget in these dark times in every corner of the world, God is present and preparing unlikely people in unlikely places to be light.
Could that be you?