On Saturday, March 18th we held our Annual Lenten Retreat “Through the Darkness to the Light”. How does our faith guide us in times of stress, trouble and tribulation?
Our first understanding is that darkness is not new and it is not something that we can escape from or avoid. Turning to scripture we looked at:
- Job 3: Job is in such despair that he wishes he was dead. His emotional and spiritual pain is so intense that he regrets the day of his birth.
- Jeremiah 12: The prophet bemoans the reality that the wicked seem to be prospering, while the righteous suffer.
- Habakkuk 1: In extremely trying circumstances, God is silent to the plight of Israel.
- Luke 13: Even Jesus admits that evil is a reality and bad things can happen to good people.
Scripture show us that the darkness that we experience is not new but common to us as part of the human condition. So how do we cope with such darkness in whatever form it takes?
For the retreat we viewed several videos found at http://www.theworkofthepeople.com.
The first video speaks of the need to share our stories:
Through sharing, honest and brutal at times, we find that our stories find common experiences and by being vulnerable we begin to transform our darkness.
Our second video points out that suffering is not something we can escape. It also notes that in order for something to provide light, something must be burned.
The reality is that sometimes, for growth to occur, we must be broken and rebuild. Our growing edges are found in being broken.
Our third video reminds us that even in the midst of suffering the creation process is alive. The darkness cannot completely eliminate the light of God in us and sometimes it is when we join with this creative process within that we are able to address the darkness.
In Romans 8:18, Paul speaks of a creation groaning in labor pains. Life is a process and sometimes we go through the “pain” of birth to create anew.
We shift gears a little bit in our fourth video as we pose the question, “what pain do we have, or cause?” Are we responsible for the darkness of others?
Both Leviticus 19 and John 1:10 point out that we have a choice in this matter, when we embrace the Light, our lives are different. When we embrace the Light, we seek to live in a way to eliminate the darkness for the other.
As the fifth video points out, sometime we must embrace the darkness and journey through it in order to find the Light.
We recall that when Elijah fled Queen Jezebel, who swore to him, he journeyed back to Sinai where he encounters God. God’s message is, you have to go back. Elijah had to journey back into his darkness to find the Light.
In our final video, we encounter a message the what is needed is forgiveness and empathy. Both contain a cost, are we willing to pay such a cost to leave behind the darkness for ourselves and others?
Yet as important as these videos are to help us understand darkness, it is the Word that provides the final illumination.
In the following passages, each of those who expressed a concern of the darkness, knows that it is God, the God of History, who comes time and again to lead us to the Light.
- Job 19
- Malachi 3:15
- Habakkuk 3:17-19
- Romans 5
When we understand that God journeys with us, that we are not alone in the dark; when we find others to share with and find compassion, we experience a means to escape our darkness.