Wednesday, September 16, 2015

In the Darkness

I just bought a book called Celtic Blessings (compiled by Ray Simpson) and one of the prayers is “for a lonely soul” and it goes like this:

In the stillness
See the wonder of God’s art
In the silence
Feel Christ’s presence
In the sunlight
Watch the Holy Spirit dance
In the darkness
Find faith’s essence
--Jane M. Machickan

That last couplet really hit me – it’s in the darkness that we find the very essence of our faith. We all know it’s easy to believe in a kind and loving God when everything is going well. We feel His love shining down on us, as we bask in a worry-free life. But what happens when things go wrong? What happens when LIFE happens – when bad, tragic and awful things crash into our lives?

I think you can interpret that couplet as a sort of statement of fact about faith: in the darkness you will discover what your faith is really built on. If your faith is built on the premise that God is some sort of magic genie who grants your every wish, or that He will reward you if you are “good” (which implies He will punish you if you’re bad) then when bad things happen you are lost. If that is your faith, then in the darkness you find nothing to really stand on. Your whole view of God goes out the window – how can He give you bad things (or allow bad things to happen) if He loves you? Your very faith, that thing you thought sustained you, falls apart like tissue paper in the rain. You either turn your back on God for not keeping His part of the bargain, or you get angry at God and become bitter and spiteful.

On the other hand, if you believe in a God who loves you unconditionally, if you believe in a God who can create good even out of bad, if you believe in a God who will give you the strength to face anything, then when bad things happen you stand firmly on The Rock. You discover the essence of your faith, and that essence is that God loves you, and that His love for you cannot be shaken, no matter your circumstances. In the darkness, you find Christ – holding your hand, giving you strength, comforting you. You truly find that you are not alone in your walk on this earth. He is there, always. No matter how dark, no matter how bad, He is with you and He will never leave you.

Now, I’m sure that the intent of the prayer is “In the darkness, may you find the unshakable essence of faith, which is that God loves you.” And that is truly my prayer for anyone going through hard times (that is, experiencing life.) But I do think that reading it as a sort of litmus test for faith is also valid. Truly, when tragedy strikes, when hard times come, what is your faith like? You’ll find out.