Faith When the Road Darkens
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”- Gimli The Fellowship of the Ring
A dark road does not mean a distant God. This is the lie we have heard in our travels, and our fearful hearts have believed. The less faith in God we have in the moments of darkness, the greater the darkness becomes to us. But our God has called us out of the darkness and into the light (1 Peter 2:9). As a pastor, one of my chief responsibilities is to remind fellow pilgrims of this; especially when the road darkens. But what am I saying? That darkness is an illusion? By no means. There is night, and there is day. But surely, the sun will rise, will it not? The deceitfulness of the shadows is that they hide not only the present light, but the coming dawn. You see, a dark road is not the end of the road. The story goes on, and it goes on precisely because there has been a victory over the darkness. “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead,”. It was in the darkest hour on earth, when the great Darkness of Death had struck down our great Hope, that the darkness was actually being defeated. The death of Christ was the death of Death. The resurrection of Christ was the dawning of a new day; an assurance of life.
Faith in the dark doesn’t mean ignoring these present sufferings. Indeed, faith on a dark road is the only thing that allows us to keep our eyes wide open, regardless of what lurks in the shadows of our hearts, and the afflictions we face. We can face the darkness because of hope. Thank God, through Jesus Christ ,that the road does not end in shadow, but a marvelous light. Onward, sojourner. Onward through darkness, through shadow, through affliction. Limping, crawling, running or walking. Do not lose faith in the God who is present in the darkness, and remember that He himself walked this road to bring many travelers home.
But as you go, remember that this is not a solo journey. Another lie we believe as the narcissistic people we are is that our sufferings are only about us. They are not. And one of the most paralyzing things you can do is to live in a world that revolves around you. The swiftest route into darkness is the path of isolation. But what if your sufferings were not only about you? What if the way you suffered was going to fully impact others? What if your endurance through the valleys was what could help another traveler find their way home? Or do you think you are alone on this road, with no responsibility to others? I cannot think of a quicker way to wander off the path.
Paul wrote to Timothy, to encourage him to endure his sufferings, and reminded Timothy that his own endurance in affliction was for the sake of others. The fight of faith is to not simply adjust our gaze, but to remove our eyes from ourselves completely. We are horrible guides. The fight of faith is to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, and with Him leading the way, live for others. Living for ourselves is the darkness. Not seeing any purpose in our sufferings beyond us is the valley. So as you steady your gaze on Jesus Christ, look for another wanderer. Perhaps we would spend far less time in the shadows if we were willing to help others in the dark. When we see sin in others, do we run? When we ourselves are hurt, do we abandon? Who in your life is walking in darkness, in need of a guide?
In the words of Gimli, “Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”. Faithless is the traveler who abandons his God in the presence of darkness, but faithless too is the friend who says farewell to another. If we have such a faithful God who endured the darkened road, let us likewise, with eyes on Him, endure it also.
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