We were talking about life and things going on in the world, some of which is worrying, even downright scary. Like me, these people believe in God but at times wrestle to apply faith in the face of such horrific suffering and apparent injustice.
It had been a glorious Autumn day in NW Donegal. We were sitting overlooking the majestic Horn Head, Killahoey Strand and part of Sheephaven Bay. It was now late afternoon and the colours were starting to fade. Much of the sky had clouded over, the sun was low and largely hidden, but here and there in the left hand quarter of the large bay window shafts of light were still piercing the gathering dusk.
As we talked, the scene outside provided graphic illustration.
From down here things can look gloomy and threatening. A verse in the New Testament says, ‘we see as through a glass darkly’ (1 Corinthians 13v12) Our vision is unclear, incomplete, and it can seem as though darkness is winning as evil runs rampant and humans practise every form of selfishness and cruelty.
Old Testament prophet Habakkuk experienced a similar struggle, crying in frustration to God, ‘How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?...Your eyes are too pure to look on evil…Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?’ (Habakkuk 1v2-3,13)
But above the clouds and to the west the sun remains shining in all its brilliance. We see it if we have the opportunity to fly at high altitude. We know it's there. In fact it is vastly bigger than the earth. Its size and powerful heat make Earth’s clouds look tiny. Perspective changes everything.
The Bible in Habakkuk and numerous other places assures that the wicked will get what’s coming to them in good time. Meanwhile God has dramatically pierced the gloom in the Person of His own Son Jesus, Who not only lived a luminary life of integrity and kind example, but lovingly sacrificed Himself for a humanity lost and groping in the dark. On the cross He prayed, ‘Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.’ (Luke 23v34)
So there is hope for people who are willing to turn from dark things and seek the light, repent from sin and trust in Jesus.
For now we don’t usually see the whole picture. Those in the Bible like Isaiah or John who are granted a glimpse of heavenly glory are blown away, really quite overcome by the experience. Most of us have to take the ‘glory’ part on faith, ‘being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not (yet) see.’ (Hebrews 11v1)
But faith is not that difficult when the ‘Light of the World’ has lived here and suffered too.
His light breaks through to shine in our hearts by His Spirit.
And this light is all we need.
Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.' (John 8v12)