November 6 & 13, 2011
Brilliance Against a Dark Background
“And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, A morning without clouds, Like the tender grass springing out of the earth, By clear shining after rain” (2 Samuel 23:4).
How much more welcome is the light of a lamp at midnight than at noon! The scientist would be quick to tell us that the lamp doesn't really "shine" any more brightly when it's dark than when it's light; the darkness only makes it appear so by its contrast. But emotionally, what a difference the darkness makes! Without the background supplied by the darkness, we'd hardly love the light as we do.
Perhaps this explains why some human lives seem to have more depth and texture than others. Those who've battled to maintain a luminous faith after suffering serious failure or significant sorrow aren't any more "real" than anyone else, but they certainly seem so. We're drawn to sufferers who have survived.
The attractive power of David's passionate love for God shines with such splendor partly because of the black moral failures from which his honor had to recover. And consider a man like Paul. He never staggered morally, but here was a man whose desire for God blazed with a special brightness because of the long, dark years of his lonely travail as an apostle. The struggle only made his hope more precious. “The time of my departure is at hand,” he said. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6,7).
The suggestion here isn't that sorrow should be invited into our lives. But when it makes an appearance, as it will in the life of anyone who dwells on this planet, we can make it our aim to shine all the more radiantly against the dark background that has developed. The Lord Jesus Christ was a “Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), and we love Him dearly for having tasted the salt of our tears. Unlike Him, our sorrows are often the consequence of our own misdeeds. But whether the darkness is of sin or some other sorrow, we can seek God in such a way as to brighten our character with the brilliance of tested faith.
“. . . may the lessons of the darkness fill my days with awe so that I may learn to experience you, my God, all the days and nights of my life. Amen” (Naomi Levy).