” . . . separate light from darkness . . . “

“Then God commanded, ‘Let lights appear in the sky to separate day from night and to show the time when days, years, and religious festivals begin; 15 they will shine in the sky to give light to the earth’—and it was done. 16 So God made the two larger lights, the sun to rule over the day and the moon to rule over the night; he also made the stars. 17 He placed the lights in the sky to shine on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God was pleased with what he saw.”  (Genesis 1:14-18)

This Holy Week I find myself reflecting upon darkness.  We have an interesting relationship with darkness.  In the very beginning of scriptures we’re told that God created us to live in rhythm with light and darkness.  We need the light, but we also need the darkness.  Sleep experts tell us that the darker the room, the better our sleep.  Yet, somehow there’s more where darkness is concerned.

I took the photo above a few months ago when I was standing at sunset on the top floor of the Willis Tower in Chicago.  If you look carefully at the center you can see the last bit of blue sky being swallowed by the brilliant reflecting rays of the setting sun and the darkened night sky overhead.  On the ground below, we see the lights of thousands and thousands of folks.  The artificial lights reflect our mixed feelings about darkness.  Sometimes we want to fight it back to save more time for commerce and other activities.  Darkness sometimes contrasts light in such a way as to enhance beauty.  (Fireworks in the daylight would be pretty blah!)  Other times we try to fight the darkness because of safety issues.  Bad things can happen more easily in the dark.

Our emotional distress, fear, shame, and guilt can create another kind of darkness, a sort of trap or prison from which we might see no escape.  One of the most powerful features about this sort of darkness is its ability to isolate us, to make us feel like we’re all alone in the darkness.  If you’ve ever been in an underground cavern when the lights have been extinguished for a few moments, you know that it’s possible to stand right beside someone and not be able to see them.  Only by hearing, touching, or smelling them can you know they’re with you.  To be alone in emotional darkness is devastating and even sometimes dangerous.

I believe the power of God’s love for us poured out in Jesus is shown not just in the light at the tomb on Sunday morning, but also in the darkness of the suffering leading up to the tomb.  God could have chosen many other paths for Jesus, but God chose the path through the darkness of suffering.  The scriptures make it abundantly clear that Jesus knew the agony of both physical pain and intense emotional suffering.  I’m convinced that Jesus walked that path so we might know that in whatever darkness we might find ourselves, God is present with us.  We are not alone.  True, as the Gospel of John proclaims, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out,” but even when we don’t yet see the light, God is present even in the darkness of suffering.  I find that very comforting.  Sometimes it takes awhile for some to come out of the darkness.  I think it’s important we affirm that God is not simply present when we reach the light, but also in the midst of the darkness.

I pray that God will show me how to be with others not only in the light, but also in the darkness.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,


Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My other book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on April 12, 2017.

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