“The Light Shines in the Darkness”

If all of our eggs are in this earthly “basket,” how sad.

I find myself thinking of the Apostle Paul’s words written, of course, specifically to Christians: “If for this life only we have hope, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

No pity needed this morning. But I must admit that I’ve lost faith. I’ve lost faith in those who have enough blind faith to claim to believe in nothing and esteem their own blindness as some sort of tragic courage. Fashionable, yes. Popular, yes. Courageous, no.

What nonsense! Nobody believes in nothing. A truly irreligious person will never be born. Everyone bows before something or someone—even if their god is the most pathetic of all, Self. God himself is the One who gives us the ability, even in the face of increasingly staggering evidence, to doubt that he exists. How big of him! How small of us.

We spent several hours yesterday with dear friends at a hospice facility (about 90 miles from our home) as they held vigil around the bed of one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever known. We got home late last evening and awoke to word that she’d passed away, went truly home, at about 4:00 this morning.

Am I more emotionally tender than usual this morning? Oh, yes. I could easily fill a book with descriptions and anecdotes all about the myriad blessings God has given me and mine via that sweet lady and her amazing husband.

Beautiful, wise, intelligent, loving, kind, dignified but fun, unfailingly gracious. Oh, I could go on.

But then, years ago now, Alzheimer’s. The diagnosis was correct—and so soul-chillingly wrong. Never was there a more inappropriate target for that horrible disease. But when light seems to fade and darkness threatens to rule, stars make their presence more fully known.

Even if these sentient stars would much prefer a completely hidden luminescence, our High King presses the darkness in which evil often does its work into service for the beautiful and the good. And those who would most eschew accolades for heroism, too busy in the midst of the onslaught doing what is needed, to have any thought of self or patience with others who stand in awe of their actions, soldier on and rise like stars to shine in the darkness, oblivious to their own shining.

My friend keeping vigil last evening would say that the breathtaking faithfulness he has shown his amazing wife is not breathtaking at all. He would impatiently and quickly deflect any such praise cast his way by saying that he has only done what he long ago promised. He would say, quite rightly, that she for decades has been unflinchingly faithful to him and blessed him and their family (and so many more) unimaginably. He would say that, had the situation been reversed, her love and devotion to him would have been as dependable and brilliant as the rising of the sun. Yes, oh, yes, it would.

And so, he would use one word for what he’s done. Nothing. Nothing that she wouldn’t have done a thousand times over. Nothing that she didn’t deserve a thousand times over.

Those of us, the many who love them both, will not quarrel with him or gainsay his protestations. We’ve long ago taken his measure. And hers. And been blessed and honored to be their friends.

I’m not sure that dignifying disease by using words to personify it is particularly helpful. Disease is an “it,” a thing in this fallen world which cannot consciously love you, hate you, care a whit about you. Life itself is, of course, an “it.” That life itself cannot care for us, love us, hate us, seek to help us, desire to destroy us—or anything else—should be no more surprising than to discover that our favorite chair doesn’t love us enough to rush to meet us at the door as we arrive home in the evening or hate us enough to laugh when we catch and break our little toe on its wooden chair leg as we make our way through the dark room at night.

But the Author of life is not only “personal,” he is our Father who can and does love us completely. Our hope is in the One who made us. Our hope is real because of our risen Lord. No pity needed.

This morning I’d so like to say, “Alzheimer’s be damned! You wretched creation of Satan, go back to hell where you came from! Did you really think you would win this battle?” But a disease can neither relish our whimpers nor cringe at our taunts.

It might indeed make real sense to curse Satan, “Go back to hell! You’ve lost again what you thought would be a victory. Did the cross teach you nothing? How long will it take you to learn that for Christ’s people, even a cross you wield as a weapon of despair will become death to death and a stake in your own black heart? What a slobbering fool you are! Early this morning, you lost yet again.”

But rather than rail against the darkness or its sniveling prince, I’d much rather bow before the Father of light and thank him for the light that “the darkness will never overcome.” In the midst of darkness, we’ve seen awe-inspiring light reflected from the lives of dear friends.

You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com, and I hope you’ll take a look there at my new “Focus on Faith” Podcast. At the website, just click on “Podcast.” Blessings!

Copyright 2022 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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