More about hard issues

Darkness and the Children of the Light

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:8-11,15-16,19-21, NIV

Today there is a lot of talk from professional counselors about the need to uncover repressed traumas, to bring them to light, and to deal with them. This is precisely what Paul is saying in this passage. We are now children of the light; we should behave accordingly. We should shun the deeds of darkness—but that does not mean we can develop amnesia about the past. We must still expose our dark deeds to the light and allow them to be transformed, because unconfessed past sins can skew our present behavior and our relationship with God. Or, to use other terminology, we should constantly be digging into our souls, bringing things to light. If we come across a sin buried somewhere, we should expose it to the light, confessing it and repenting of it.

Living a life in harmony with our spiritual reality is admittedly difficult. We live in evil days. People do evil routinely. Sometimes they even regret what they are doing, but they do it anyway on the grounds that it is general practice, and if they do not participate they will be in some way disadvantaged. This is quite astute: worldly people cannot afford to lose a present advantage, because the present moment is all they have. We, on the other hand, have eternity to look forward to! We can afford to suffer a setback from right behavior, because we know that our eternal gain will far outweigh it.

Professed Christians who refuse to sacrifice a momentary advantage to gain an eternal advantage cannot be placing much stock in what Jesus says. What are we to make of a person who professes to trust Christ for eternity, but can’t trust Him for the stretch until five o’clock? To paraphrase John, if you cannot trust Jesus for things that are present, how can you be trusting Jesus for things that are future? My theory is that people who say they trust Jesus for heaven but live in severe anxiety about their present circumstances are deceiving themselves.

Therefore, be children of the light, not children of darkness. If you truly have faith in Jesus Christ, let that seed of faith, which germinated in your soul, take root in your body, and bear fruit in good works. Live as children of the light. If you find any darkness within you, expose it to the light. Confess it to the Lord and allow His Spirit to transform you.

There is a radio commercial in my area where various old-timers compare hardships from the past. At the end of the commercial, they all agree: Those were the good old days. This is one thing that everyone agrees on: the times we remember most fondly are the times that were hardest when they were present. When we reminisce about them, we do not relive the tension, distress, and dread we felt back then; rather, we are overcome with a warm glow, because now in retrospect we see how those hardships eventually worked out for good.

If even worldly people can look back into past hard times and see good things in retrospect, why are we as spiritual people distressed when present times are hard? Are spiritual people less perceptive than worldly people? Why can’t we remember that in each and every case in the past when times got rough, God came through for us? Why can’t we have faith that God is at work behind the scenes in present hard times to bring us benefit through them?

Try this experiment: If you are in any sort of difficulty, if you are beset with any fear, if you are faced with an insurmountable challenge, get on your knees and thank God for all the times He saw you through similar situations in the past. Give details! Confess how you were faithless in those situations, but He came through for you anyway. Then take a deep breath and give thanks for your present situation. Assure God that even though you are scared, you have faith that He is in this situation as well.

Give thanks in all things! Especially when you can’t see anything to be thankful about. Give thanks in advance for the future moment when you will look back and remember God’s providence in these hard times.

Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved—not only in the next world, but in this one as well. You aren’t in heaven yet, but you aren’t worried about it, are you? Yet you cannot see heaven yet. You have no idea what it will be like. Then why should you be worried simply because you can’t see the resolution of your present difficulties? Why should you be concerned simply because you don’t know how things will turn out?

Life in this world is not a walk in the park, but for you it should be a walk with Jesus.