Finding Light in the Shadows

Hope and Encouragement When Things Seem Bleak
July 1, 2020

Life is hard. As I write this article, the United States, along with the rest of the world, is going through an incredibly trying time in the midst of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Millions have lost jobs. Hundreds of thousands of people, formerly self-sufficient, find themselves dependent on charitable organizations to meet basic needs. Worldwide, by late May 2020, nearly 350,000 people have died. Sadly, many of those folks have died alone, separated from loved ones.

However, as if the pandemic hasn’t caused enough difficulty, there are the other challenges faced on a daily basis. Broken relationships, failing health, anxiety, depression and a host of other maladies relentlessly pound on our hearts. From the middle of the cauldron of life, we find ourselves desperate for relief and uncertain of our ability to endure one more disappointment. The book of Lamentations begins with a question many people today can readily say themselves. It is simple, direct, and probably one you have found yourself asking at some time in the past. You may even be asking it right now: How?

Lamentations 1:1 (NKJV) says, “How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow is she, Who was great among the nations! The princess among the provinces has become a slave!” Most translations render the Hebrew word “ekah,” which begins the verse, in the form of an exclamation rather than as a question. However, when translating a word or particle, it never entirely loses its basic sense. Consequently, an alternate rendering could be, “How has this city that was full of people become empty and desolate?”

If you apply the same sentiment to yourself, you may be wondering how did you fall down to this place of hopelessness where you now reside? Or maybe you are wondering, “How can I endure one more disappointment or trial? I don’t have it in me to take one more step.”

From Genesis to Revelation the Bible acknowledges the difficulties of the human experience because of sin. However, we do not need to allow ourselves to slip into despair, no matter how dark the circumstances we found ourselves within. Many people are familiar with Psalm 23 and the imagery of the faithful shepherd who protects and provides for his flock. Tucked in the passage is the famous verse that reads, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (NKJV). 

One of the things that is often overlooked is the reality that shadows don’t exist in the absence of light. There is no greater threat to us than death. But the Psalmist points out to us no matter how dire the threat we face, there is a light source that is greater than the thing that troubles us. Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV) encourages us to “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” No matter how challenging things are right now, remember there is a light source that goes with you and warms your heart for the difficult journey of life.

By Paul Kevin Wells. Wells is the senior pastor of the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church. He lives in Grand Prairie, Texas, with his wife Michelle and their children, Parker and Lydia.