We are slowly entering that time of year again. That time of year when slowly but surely the days grow a bit colder, where all around us we are reminded of the change of seasons, and that time of year when bit by bit the days begin to grow shorter. Now even though this happens every year like clockwork, it doesn’t make me any happier about it. Each year I feel like I have to go through this adjustment period to prepare myself for the inevitable changes even though I knew they were coming. You see that’s the challenge of darkness it takes some adjustment. When you walk into a dark room your eyes take time to adjust to the lack of light. You might feel around for a light switch but often if you wait a short time, your eyes will adjust to the darkness around you and reveal that there is in fact enough light to see.
This past Tuesday at our Pub Theology gathering we talked about Silver Linings, about those moments in our lives that were full of darkness and the bright spots that we found in spite of those difficult times. We heard stories dealing with a variety of different struggles, but in each one there was a bright spot, a lesson learned or an opportunity for growth that came out of what would have otherwise been seen as a dark time. I think these stories are important to remember because whether you have faced many difficult times in your life or just a few, chances are you will face some difficulty in the future. It’s in these difficult moments that we can remember these stories of silver linings and allow them to serve as a reminder that God has been with us when times were hard before, and God will continue to be with us through the darkness again.
It’s these silver lining stories, like the ones shared this past Tuesday, that help me to believe God is at work even when it seems like there is so much darkness in the world. For example we currently live at a time when we continually hear about wars and rumors of other wars and conflicts that we are already, or may soon be, involved in. We are hearing about stories of the scarcity of resources causing hunger, thirst, and poverty around the world. We hear stories about the outbreak of ebola in Africa and wonder how this and other deadly diseases will be stopped. There is indeed darkness in this world.
In the midst of those stories of darkness, however, we also hear stories of light. We hear about world leaders coming together to address the problems around the world. We hear about cooperative efforts to stop the spread of ebola, and the doctors who are willing to risk their lives to treat those effected. We hear about relief agencies, like Lutheran disaster response, helping those refugees displaced by violence and disease, and we hear of those going to defend others from violence and oppression. These stories serve as silver linings, bright spots in the midst of darkness. These stories serve as reminders that despite the darkness, God is still at work.
So if you find yourself going through times of darkness I encourage you to remember these stories, these glimmers of light. May they serve as a reminder that God is always present and always working for good even when things seem so bad. Even now as we enter into this darkest season of the year we have so much to look forward to. We will soon celebrate our 125th anniversary, an event that will be filled with joy and excitement. Before long we will find ourselves in the midst of the holiday season which will hopefully bring some peace and a chance to gather with the ones we love. And before too long, though at times it seems like an eternity, the light will return, the days will grow longer, the weather warmer, and the darkest season of the year will come to an end. So may we continue to share our stories of silver linings, may we encourage each other when we go through dark times, and may we bear witness to God’s work all around us. For in the midst of darkness we can remember that we have found bright spots and silver linings before, and those stories can cause us to remember to look for those other bright spots in dark times. To adjust our eyes and look for the shine of silver linings where God is at work.
Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.