From Shades of Night to Plains of Light
“Gloom, despair and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all! Gloom, despair and agony on meeeee!” Adults of a certain age will remember that chorus sung by the gang from the weekly variety show, “Hee Haw.” I can’t remember any of the skits that went with the song, but I don’t know that I’ll ever forget that chorus.
That might feel like a theme song for the past 12 months. It was about a year ago that we were watching the first impeachment trial while just beginning to hear about a new virus that might cause some problems. Now here we are a year later and we’ve witnessed the virus’ devastation, a crashed economy, riots and widespread protests, fires, floods, freezes and hurricanes, incredible division and suspicion and perhaps the craziest election cycle we’ve ever had. There’s been plenty of gloom, despair and agony to go around and it doesn’t feel like we’re out of the woods yet. As someone implied to me the other day, “The hits just keep on comin’.”
I know that the Hee Haw gang was just having fun when they sang that song but gloom, despair and depression are real things and if we’re not careful we can get caught in their grip. So what are we to do in the midst of seemingly dark days? First, we’re going to put no stock in the idea of “luck.” We are heirs of the promise, children of the Sovereign God of all creation and everything is in His hand and under His control. None of this craziness caught Him by surprise and, in fact, He is working it all together toward the day of resurrection, the new Heaven and new Earth. We can rest in providence and grace and give no credit to luck, karma, fortune or any other explanation for our circumstances. We can know that God is in control because Jesus is raised from the dead!
Another thing that I’m doing on a regular basis is counting nothing as belonging to me. What I mean is that I have to regularly remind myself that the stuff of this life is not mine. My house, my car, my bank account and even my very life is on loan to me from the One who has redeemed my life. So I count nothing as mine. As citizens of the United States we have enjoyed unprecedented freedom and prosperity, yet as hard as it is to imagine, even those can be taken away. So I’m trying to get to that place where daily I’m confessing, “my life is not my own. I’ve been bought with a price.” There is a sense of freedom in knowing that if you don’t own anything then they can’t take anything away.
Finally, we must choose to believe above all else, that God loves us! Many are asking where is God in the midst of all of this? Every hardship, trial, setback and difficulty will be used to call His love and His power into question. Paul had every reason on earth to give way to gloom and despair, but he was so sure of God’s love for him in Christ that he continually rose above his circumstances. We can be just as confident in the love of God because we know that Jesus came for us and gave up His life for us. Recall what Paul said in Romans 8: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all-how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? …Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? …For I am convinced that neither death nor life, …nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” May we live with great hope, convinced of His love for us!