Matthew 4:16 “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
When I first became a minister, I worked for a while in an ophthalmic ward as its part-time chaplain. All the patients in it were recovering from eye surgery. Some of them needed implants, some suffered from glaucoma, and still others had been involved in car accidents which meant that the surgeons had to patiently pick out small fragments of glass and metal from their eyes.
95% of the time, the surgeries were successful. The other five percent had to undergo several different operations before their eye ailments were cured. Sadly, a small number of people each year remained blind. Dealing with those patients was amongst the saddest pastoral experiences I ever had.
For the rest of the patients, recovery took several days. They were gradually brought into the light, so that their eyes would not be permanently damaged by the sudden brightness of daylight. I can remember that large wooden shutters were placed over each window in the ward. The merest ray of sunshine, if prematurely exposed to the patients, could ruin their eyes forever.
The best experiences in the ward were those great days when a patient was wheeled out into the courtyard in full sunlight. Their joy was ecstatic and tears of gladness were often shed by the patients, nurses, as well their families. It was indeed a fulfilling of the old Biblical prophecy – “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light.”
Spiritual darkness occurs in the hearts and souls of many people in the world today. Sometimes they’ve allowed fear, disbelief and distance from God to take them back into the shadows of doubt and despair. Sometimes painful events, grief, and illnesses cause people to retreat within them, cutting themselves off from God’s love and His people. Whatever the causes or the circumstances, as a pastor I have seen the light of Christ heal, restore, and reclaim people like them for God’s Kingdom, in words and ways that cause them to rejoice in the Lord and delight in His glory.
Perhaps you are currently undergoing some pain, hardship, or trouble. Maybe you feel vulnerable, isolated, and alone. Dark clouds may have almost overwhelmed your soul and you may feel depressed. Know this: Christ has the capacity to bring you back into the light. Allow Him to do what He is best at accomplishing – restoring peoples’ lives and returning them to God’s Love. All you need to do is ask Him to do this for you, even now as you are reading this message.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You know the struggles we are all experiencing and the issues that over-shadow our lives. In the midst of all the darkness that we feel, bring to each of us Your Everlasting Light. Encourage and embrace us; empower and enable us to follow Your Light. In Your Holy Name, we sincerely pray. Amen.
John Stuart [email protected]