"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."
The picture on the right side of this post is a picture of our youngest daughter. My wife took it yesterday while we walked to the post office. She is the youngest of our five children and the only one still living at home. In this picture she is just being herself.
We delight in her exuberance, which is frequently on display. There is rich story of how she came to be our daughter and we thank God daily for bringing her into our home. Parenting her is hard work but every day we experience joy as her mom and dad. She is a very bright light in our life.
Last night we received some hard news about a member of our congregation. This member's daughter had tragically died during the afternoon. At perhaps the same time we were walking to the post office and enjoying our daughter there was another person, someone we know, losing her daughter. As her pastor, I went to visit this member in her home yesterday after hearing the news. There was much sorrow in that place. It was the darkest, most painful space I have been in since coming to this ministry last summer.
Since last night I have spent some time thinking about the brightness of light and the emptiness of darkness, and how thinly separated they can be at times. Being a pastor, and also being in the midst of preparing a sermon, I thought primarily about spiritual light and spiritual darkness.
We live as fallen people in a fallen world. There is no shortage of evidence of the pervasiveness of sin throughout the world, and as a Christian I know that the evidence is as close as my own heart. In the opening verses of his Gospel John reminds us that in Christ "Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
The verse at the top of this post is from Paul, writing to the church at Rome. As I continue to serve God among my congregation during this difficult time I do so knowing that I have no answer to the question of why God allowed this person to die at this time.
But what I do know is that no circumstance in life, no matter how joyous or painful, takes away the hope that we have as people of faith in Christ. As we grieve we may not be in a place of rejoicing, but we are in a place of prayer, praying to the one who is, and always will be, the truest Light.
The darkness has not overcome the Light of Christ, and it never will. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.