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Faith Column: In darkness, light is found through faith

Bain White/ For the Saturday Morning Press

As I was pondering the readings for this upcoming Sunday I was surprised at what kept coming into mind. Believe it or not, the African-American spiritual song from the horrible slavery days kept looming in my mind’s eye. I’m sure that you will remember it when I start with “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows my sorrow,” and speaks to the trouble and sorrows that we endure on earth. The song ends in triumph with glory hallelujah, and speaks of the singer’s ultimate arrival in heaven. To me, this song is truly representative of all of our faith, with living in a time of darkness and trouble, but coming to a place of light and reward.

As a pastor, I have listened to the difficulties and problems that we have on earth during this lifetime and experienced more than my fair share as well. I have yet to find a person who has not experienced the darkness that can overwhelm all of us, and I was reminded of that from one reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 16: 16-34). St. Paul and his traveling companions were seized after St. Paul ordered a spirit of divination to come out of a slave girl who was earning money for her owners. When the owners discovered that they would lose all of their income they were incensed and seized St. Paul and his traveling companions. They were dragged before the magistrates and were stripped of their clothing and beaten with rods. I might add that these rods would have been made of iron, and were one-quarter of an inch thick, enough to break bones when they struck. The companions were placed in an innermost cell with their feet securely locked into stocks. They should have reasonably known that their lives were most likely forfeit, and they would be killed the following day.

It is hard for us to imagine how dark a time this should have been for St. Paul and his companions. We can’t even imagine what being beaten with iron rods would be like, to say nothing of knowing that your life would be over in a matter of hours. The darkness could be compared with death itself, perhaps like being in the belly of a great fish (Jonah 1:17 – 2:10), or some other form of darkness that only the imagination could conceive. In the case of St. Paul and his companions, in the face of so much peril, so much pain, so much grief, they responded by praying and singing hymns to God while the other prisoners listened and followed along intently. An earthquake so violent that it shook the very foundations of the prison struck and all of the prison doors opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. This woke up the jailer who assumed that all of the prisoners had escaped and he hastened to fall upon his own sword, since he knew his life was forfeit in the jailbreak. As the jailer prepared to fall on his sword, St. Paul assured him that all of the prisoners were there, and to not harm himself. The jailer was so overwhelmed that he took the prisoners out of the jail into the light himself, and asked what he must do to be saved. St. Paul told the jailer to “believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” St. Paul and his companions spoke to the jailer about coming out of the darkness and into the light and the jailer and his entire household were baptized without delay.

Our problems and the darkness seem so trivial in comparison to St. Paul and his traveling companions when they were facing certain death. The life of sheer horror lived by slaves who wrote and sang about the troubles that they had seen or the sorrow that they had experienced also make our problems seem trivial in comparison. The one constant that is present however is the fact that no matter how hard, how difficult, how dark and bleak our troubles are, there is the light that awaits us. All of the difficulties of this or any age mean nothing when compared with what we live for, that desire to be united with Jesus Christ in his glory. As Jesus stated, “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, NRSV). I pray that each of us reject the darkness, progress toward the light, and proclaim the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to all who will listen.

Rev. Bain White is from St. Mark’s Church of Grace in Craig.
Rev. Bain White is from St. Mark’s Church of Grace in Craig.

Rev. Bain White is from St. Mark’s Church of Grace in Craig.


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