Going Deeper with the Message:
Hope in the Darkness
by: Ben Biles
I used to listen to a song by Mumford & Sons that goes, “So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light / ‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright / But I will hold as long as you like / Just promise me we’ll be alright.” From the lyrics, I knew that the singer was suffering. I knew that he viewed the world as a source of pain. I knew that he had been beaten up in life and felt overcome by his circumstances. I knew these things, but I wondered at his source of hope to which he reaches out. What, or who, was he depending on to bring him out of that painful place—out of the darkness?
This is something I often wonder about people who don’t know the salvation of our great God. There were times in my life that I honestly wouldn’t have been able to weather without the provision and protection of God. I would’ve sunk to a dark place. But I held on to this truth about Jesus: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4–5). I knew that God was with me and could overcome any suffering. Though I experienced pain and sorrow in the present moment, He was my hope in the darkness.
The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Paul’s encouragement to the Romans acknowledged that life was full of suffering. Yet that didn’t cause him to question the goodness of God. Rather, it convinced him that the glory waiting for him was worth all the suffering in the present moment. As with all things, he knew that the path to glory always goes through the valley of suffering. He had his hope fully set on God and didn’t allow his suffering in the present moment to distract him from the glorious eternity waiting for him.
Whatever you are experiencing in your life, know that God is with you and He is for you. Cling to Him as your hope in the darkness. Don’t let your present suffering rob you of the reality that you will experience the most glorious future with God in eternity. Let that hope give you strength to carry through.
Living out the Message:
By Ben Biles
There is a curious habit that’s plagued our society for several generations: the desire to privately endure the suffering in our lives. Though it is not a new trend, it has become more obvious on social media. Almost everything we see is positive—a smiling face, a beautiful vacation, a funny moment. We like everyone to see the happy stuff, but we tend to hide the things that hurt. Rarely do you get a glimpse into the personal suffering of a person. Why? Because we prefer to suffer alone, without anyone seeing our hurt.
Yet, it is very difficult to process grief and suffering alone. We get overwhelmed with our emotions and thoughts. We question our circumstances, God’s goodness, and ourselves. But God created humans as relational creatures to know and love others and to be known and loved. We are naturally disposed to share our lives with our friends, family, and neighbors. This is true for both the good and the bad times—especially for the bad times, for that is when we need the support of the community the most.
Solomon shows us the need for community in Ecclesiastes. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12). We see that those who suffer alone have no one to lift them up. When we suffer privately, we sink to the depths of our inner turmoil and stay there. But when we let others into our suffering, we are lifted up and out. We are strengthened by our community.
So what do we do with the suffering in our life? We find support in the context of Christian community. But we go further than that. We purposely join a community in order to support those who are suffering. We look for ways to lift others out of their suffering. The Apostle Paul commands the church in Galatia, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). We rely on others and others rely on us. When we let others into our suffering, our burden becomes lighter. It becomes bearable. It gives others an opportunity to love you and for you to love them. This is what community is all about. We need to drop the façade of a purely positive life and let others into our suffering.