As a boy, Robert Lewis Stevenson (1850-1894; authored Treasure Island) was not healthy. One cold night, as he stared out his bedroom window, his nurse told him to come away from the cold glass. He didn’t listen, but kept watching intently as a lamplighter moved down the dark street outside, lighting lamps along the way. Stevenson reportedly exclaimed, “See, look! There’s a man poking holes in the darkness!”
For us, hope in the goodness and faithfulness of God can poke holes in the darkness we experience. God might seem out of sight or his presence might feel obscured by darkness—when we’re alone and lonely, or circumstances are grim and apparently hopeless, or our faith has been shredded or worn down too far. Darkness can surround and invade us, but our God is not overcome by physical nor spiritual darkness.
In his storybook, the Bible, God relates through writers and stories many times when darkness was heavy, frightening, unrelenting. But God always brings light.
- Jesus himself is light: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” John 8:12.
- “Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me” Micah 7:8
- “For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ” 2 Corinthians 4:6
- “The light [Jesus] shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” John 1:5
The Bible itself is a light source, a lamp that shines for our feet to find footing, putting light on the path we’re walking (Psalm 119:105). Reading and mentally rehearsing Scripture brings more understanding: “The unfolding of your words gives light” Psalm 119:130.
Lamplighters are part of history. We have to imagine how Stevenson observed the lamplighter outside, “poking holes in the darkness.” Unchanged is how God pokes holes in our spiritual darkness—bringing light and with it, hope, for those who believe in Jesus. He’s our lamplighter: “For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness” Psalm 18:28.
Karen Schmidt is a contributing editor with JCN and is keenly drawn to light—a candle, a sunshine beam, hovering fireflies.
NCF’s Hope in the Darkness theme for National Nurses Month is our way to share with nurses the hope we have in relationship--with God, our colleagues, and the individuals and communities where we work and serve. We celebrate the hope and light of Jesus Christ that can never be extinguished and the influence of relationships in our lives and profession. Free Bible studies, screen savers, and many professional and personal spiritual resources are available.