Long-suffering readers of this column know that I care about and try to focus on the traditional foundational truths of Christianity, but one of my deep beliefs is that truth is truth wherever it is found, and all of it is God’s.
When someone begins to talk about “my truth,” as if truth could be changed for any individual like choosing a differently colored shirt, I want to dissent. Gravity is a law that follows laws, and in this world, we all must deal with its truth—and all that is true—or deal with the consequent bruises.
I’m not conversant with writer Annie Dillard’s beliefs or life or writing, but I will say that she has captured deep truth for all of us in a few well-chosen words that I love: “You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.”
You’ve found that to be profoundly true yourself, have you not? If we were to sit together and talk about our own life experiences and share in a setting of safety and trust, I think we would come away with some stories of star light.
I think we would find that, upon reflection (I choose that word on purpose), most would say that it was a dark time that eventually made it possible for them to see some glimmers of light that they might otherwise not have seen.
I’m not naive, and I do not trust or easily accept “throw down” platitudes. Seeing light when the darkness seems impenetrable is not something that happens quickly or easily. I would never make light of anyone’s suffering. But the truth is that stars do shine, even if we have a hard time seeing them. And we learn things only such precious and costly light can reveal when they shine through.
The people we respect the most are not people who have never walked through times of deep darkness. They are people who have learned the hard way that the stars are there. They are people who can share with us from experience, and often through tears, that the time came for them when in darkness, a light pierced the gloom. Maybe only a barely seen star or two, at first. And even one caught them by surprise. Was their pain suddenly gone? No, but any sparkle of hope in darkness is precious, never forgotten, and a light to steer by. Ask the Wise Men.
The most respected figures in the Bible all will point to that truth. It would be wise to invite them into our group. Bring in the sufferer Job, for sure. There’s a good reason that Bible book is called “wisdom literature.” Bring in the psalm-writers, especially the one who wrote of his God, “even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Psalm 139:12). I’ve probably taken that out of context, but I believe the truth that our Creator knows how absolutely black darkness can truly be. The psalmist reminds us that our Father is in no way blinded by it, nor are we hidden from him in its murk.
Never was a day darker than that Friday at Calvary, and even God’s Son felt dark despair. But hope won. Love won. And stars did pierce even that blackness. They were always there, and so is their Creator.
Copyright 2023 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.