The first night I ever spent in Bishop, my family drove up to the outskirts of town near Sherwin Pass and basked in the quiet and the light of the stars. It is only on the darkest nights when the moon has not yet risen that those stars, and even the Milky Way, can reveal their displays of glory. In a similar vein, our testimony of Christ can be the most effective, far-reaching, and powerful when we allow our light to shine in the darkest courses of our lives. When Job, a blameless and upright man, had his life turned upside down, he responded, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” His response shouldn’t be an anomaly; his example should be the norm of every Christian’s walk.
The apostle Paul penned some of the dearest words in Scripture while under the earthly authority of Rome, knowing his own execution was not out of the question. It was in this time of his life he wrote, “Do all things without grumbling or questioning…” All things? Really Paul, why all things? “…That you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life… (Philippians 2:14-15).”
It can be awfully tiring waiting for the perfect situation to unfold itself. Our work, health, finances, and relationships may not pan out according to our plan and we become disgruntled and depressed. The thing is, Christ’s burden is easy and His yoke is light. When one’s sight is set on Christ, it really does not matter what else is happening in our periphery. Then, with the mind no longer clouded by a poor attitude, the good that God can accomplish through the suffering becomes clear. Paul, for instance, was able to use his imprisonment to shine his light in his corner of the world. First, the gospel was advanced throughout the entire Praetorian Guard and then, his imprisonment encouraged other believers to be confident in the Lord and speak the gospel without fear. All this from one man under house arrest!
Now, identify what opportunities in our lives are being wasted because of grumbling and questioning. Then confess that sin to Him and transform your mind with His Word. Grumbling only spills forth because that is what is stored in a person’s heart. Hold fast to the word of life, because in it suffering promises us a bountiful harvest of eternal value. The world will tell you to rid yourself of suffering but God’s word tells us that through suffering we gain endurance, character, hope, restoration, strength, steadfastness, blessing, and the honor of comforting those who have suffered the same ways we have.
Life may be going pretty well for some reading this today. You have money in the bank, your health, wonderful relationships with others, and are an all-around good person. This whole being a light in a dark place message doesn’t seem relevant to you. Yet money, health, and your relationships are all temporary, they can be gone in the blink of an eye. As far as relying upon your own good, that is a poor foundation. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ whose suffering in this dark world brought the opportunity for everlasting life.
The spiritually, emotionally, or physically dark place a Christian may find themselves in holds ample opportunities. Allow His light to shine as bright as the stars do on the darkest nights in the Eastern Sierras. With that encouragement, also remember Apostle Paul’s words in the midst of his own affliction,
“…He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me (2 Corinthians 12:9).