Light in the Darkness

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. – John 1:5

Indonesia is still reeling from a 7.5-magnitude quake and tsunami with waves as high as 20 feet that hit the island of Sulawesi last month. Tens of thousands were left homeless, thousands of buildings damaged. The ground liquefied and swallowed up buildings and people. The official death toll is 2,073. But the number of people missing could be as high as 5,000. And search and rescue efforts are set to end today.

Just last week Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida panhandle as the strongest hurricane to hit the continental US since 1992. The storm left six people dead, a million people without electricity and a wide trail of wreckage and ruin that will take years to repair.

Oh, and before I forget, the stock market took the third biggest tumble in its history last week, dropping more than 800 points. Economists aren’t sure whether this is merely a correction or something more troubling (as if setting your retirement plans back by 12 years wasn’t troubling enough).

Into all that bad news I read these words from Isaiah in my Friday devotions,

Yes, the Sovereign LORD is coming in power.
He will rule with a powerful arm.
See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.
He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. – Isaiah 40:10-11

There’s an obvious tension between the realities of the last few weeks and the promise of God’s words. And honest people of faith will wrestle with that tension. I know that I have. And here’s how I’m living into that tension.

God’s promise doesn’t preclude hardship and tragedy. In fact, it’s predicated upon it. Why else would God need to come with both power and compassion if the world wasn’t full of evil and hardship? We shouldn’t be surprised by world events. This is a broken world.

And while God’s power and compassion is sometimes experienced directly through the Spirit, in my experience it is most often experienced through the hands, feet and heart of Spirit-led people.

So, we can argue and debate the truth of God’s promise in the face of tragedy, or we can respond to the needs of our neighbor and be a part of the fulfillment of God’s promise. We can bemoan the darkness or be the light we were created to be (Matthew 5:14-16).

Want to be light in the darkness of Indonesia? Click here.

Want to be light in darkness of those in Hurricane Michael’s path? Click here.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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