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“My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy” (Ps. 63:5-7 NRSV).
I admit that while I like the cold, I love more sunlight during the day. There is an excitement to the impending arrival of spring. We think of rebirth and the hope of the newness that is to come. I was sharing my feelings about the night time and how much I enjoy the day when someone in a group in which I was a member pointed out something that I missed right in front of my face. My friend said to me, “Joe, remember that there is beauty in the night. You must journey through the darkness to experience the gifts that are present.”
Our Lenten journey reminds us that we were a people who came out of darkness. We looked at the stars to guide our hearts into the perfect light, the love of Christ. We know what complete darkness feels like. It is a place of fear and insecurity. We, who have been transformed, know that our journey towards the brightness of God began with a tiny light to pierce the dark. We can call the light a candle, a glow, a star or even a hope. However the light may come when there is no light, we are never the same.
This leads to the ultimate question that, since God is present in all things, is there really complete darkness? Does our journey ever take us into a place where there is an absence of God? The Psalmist states in Psalm 139 that, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night’, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Ps. 139:11-12). We are never in complete darkness because God is present in all things.
I struggle with such a bold statement such as the one the Psalmist presents. I have seen the harm that some people inflict on other people and I am afraid that I am led to more questions than answers. If God is present in all things, then why is their suffering in this world? I am encouraged to step even deeper into the heart and determine how in the world such atrocities exist if God is present in all things.
Unfortunately, humanity does not treat the environment (including ourselves and others) very well. We see on the news everyday what groups of people inflict on other groups. We don’t have very far to go to see the dehumanization of countless groups in our world beaten and left for dead. Hunger takes its toll on innocent people. Cancer and other diseases spread through the lives of those we love and we look at the text written by the psalmist and ask, “Are you kidding me? Why would God allow this to happen in the lives of those around us? Not only is our world dark, but it appears that God is not present in the blackness.”
I believe that the claim that is made in Psalm 139 concerning God’s presence is indeed true. God truly is in all things. Our responsibility is to share in the divine love and nurture it. Our darkness is made light when we surrender to the love of the Great Creator. In our perception of the darkness the Holy One calls us to focus on Him. As we do, we come to realize that this overwhelming God transforms our hearts and minds and gives us comfort and peace. What once was a dark place has now become light.
An assuredness of God’s presence is what gives us hope in the middle of the darkness. When all else fails, there is one small light to break through the darkness of cancer, or the blackness of hunger and abuse. There is no darkness, for God is in every space and place imaginable. We embrace the light to guide us back to the incredible light of the Father. God’s warmth is already here. Will you recognize it and embrace it, or will you live in darkness and fear? The choice is yours.