Imagine with me someone who was imprisoned underground away from any light for a long period of time. What would happen if you took them and suddenly transported them onto a bright sunny lawn? They would cringe, withdraw, every part would ache and try to run for shade for some relief. Bringing someone out of a life of darkness and pain takes time. The one thing we can offer someone who’s suffered in a prison of pain is HOPE.
Hope is the antithesis of darkness and despair – and it doesn’t bring the pain that exposure does. Hope is gentle and kind, like love. Hope says, “Don’t worry, things can change. It will take time, but you can be free to experience love, faith, peace, and freedom.
I Cor. 13 tells us that charity (or love) covers like a blanket, protecting us while we move from darkness to light. It allows us to gradually see again. God’s love demonstrated to us, usually through people, allows for transition. We are not cast from a dark underground cell of pain and sin into the street of exposure — unlike those who brought the woman caught in the act of adultery into the village square and threw her at Jesus feet for judgment (John 8:3-5).
We can be like those men – it’s our human nature to expose others for their sin. We’ve all done it. Knowingly or not, we have cast people into the street for judgment. The men who threw her at the feet of Jesus were guilty themselves. They wanted to see what He would do with her, a sinner — this woman caught in the act of adultery. Our pride blinds us to God’s ways. Jesus wrote something in the dirt, and the men began to leave. Then He said, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No man, Lord.” And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more”. 12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:10-12 NKJV).
Jesus’ manner caused the Pharisees much turmoil. They were religious, filled with pride and did not understand relationship with God. “Who is he, that he can forgive sin!” they thought and questioned (John Chapters 9 and 10). Little did they know.
We all will face trials and suffering in our world because of sin present in mankind, whether directly or indirectly: because of your sin toward others, theirs toward you, or simply because of our response to pain.
While in Romania this fall, I visited Ceausescu’s Palace. Once called the People’s House, today it is known as The Palace of the Parliament (the largest administrative building in the world). The Wumbrand’s were a family who knew what it was to suffer at the hands of another, yet God cared and demonstrated His love to them in the midst of suffering. Pastor Richard Wumbrand was held in solitary confinement for 3 years during his 14 years in communist prisons. He spent time in a solitary cell in the basement of this “palace”, tortured for His faith in Jesus Christ, as they attempted to get him to renounce Christ and accept the state religion of Communism as his “Savior” — but he would not. I have a video of him made years later when he returned to the dungeon cell. God—the Holy Spirit and His angels–ministered to Richard there. He was pale, starving and beaten. If someone would have taken him from the underground cell and suddenly cast him upon the huge lawn that surrounds the palace, he certainly would have recoiled from the exposure to light, something he had been deprived of for so long.
Have you been in a place of suffering? Perhaps silently, others may not be aware of it, but the pain is very real. God extends His love to you, which may be difficult for you to recieve if you have suffered in a religious enviroment. Recognize that you have a choice in the matter of how you respond to suffering.
Satan hates you. He is the author of every dark place in life – bar none. When sin entered our world, with it came death, disease, destruction and every sort of wickedness man could conceive. Satan hates God and is constantly prowling like a lion, looking for those he can tempt and pull into sin. Sin unchecked, unrepented of, eventually becomes a stronghold and then a bondage difficult to escape. It takes many forms yet generally it is seen two ways: destruction of self or of those around you, sometimes both.
Several years ago I needed to walk out of a dark place in my life. Dear friends were desiring to help me, through a counseling process, into the light of freedom. It was very painful and It was not easy to move from the place where I had developed my cocoon of safety. I was deeply wounded from years of deception, fear and confusion that took me to a cavern of sorts – even though it seemed light at times. It was a gradual process, nothing sudden; like the frog in the water pot, things happened and changed and yet I did not realize what was happening until years later upon exposure. By God’s grace I was preserved, kept in His care.
Over time, the dark place in our life can become our normal; we learn to adjust and function there. But is it a place of freedom? That is an important question to ask yourself. God’s desire for each person he created is freedom, not bondage. Satan is the author of bondage. Jesus sacrificed, suffered, was crucified, died and was buried for us — for our sin. Satan was glad to see his nemesis crucified. BUT then something happened. . . the bonds of death could not hold Him in the grave. The earth shook, and the grave opened and He was free, He rose from the dead! Jesus became our example in overcoming Satan and his intentions. Death could not hold Him — He is our resurrected Savior and King! He now offers this victorius LIFE to us. He was not a victim of Satan’s plans, nor are we.
Freedom from the bondage of sin in any form – even subtle self-protective pride, fear of man, fear of the future — these can all be renounced and freedom can be embraced through surrender to Christ and His Lordship. He is a precious, wonderful caring Savior. And He desires relationship with you.
Jesus wants to bring you to the light, but he will not expose you in a harmful way. He wants to cover you with a blanket and cleanse you from every sin. He offers kindness and love to you, not harshness and high demands. He knows all about your brokenness and pain. He truly understands everything you have experienced. There is no shame or guilt that he cannot take and turn into peace and safety. Will you trust Him? Allow Him to show you the abundant life He offers? His Word will restructure your thoughts. You don’t have to hold on to old patterns of thinking that are wrong. God wants to instruct you in the way of life, as well as expose the enemy, Satan, for the wicked devil that he is.
If you want to make a difference in our world – to accomplish justice — it will not come through the kingdom of this World, but rather through God’s Kingdom. Learn to wage war there – not a war of guns and violence, but of submission to God’s power and authority. God’s ability to turn a king’s heart, a nation, and our lives is unlimited. Our choice is to cooperate — we decide whether we will surrender or not to His ways. When we belong to Him, His love compels us to obey Him. I John 5:3 says, “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome” (NLT).
Let us humble ourselves and recognize our need of God to govern in our lives, nation, and world. We need to recognize our position before our Creator God — we deserve nothing and He deserves everything. He alone is worthy of all our praise and worship. Jesus warned that he did not come to bring peace but a sword (Mt. 10:34) and this severing from the world involves leaving some things behind that we previously loved about ourselves — wrong thinking for one. When Christ returns it will be a terrible day for many, and men’s hearts will fail them for fear (Luke 21:26). Once this period of grace is up, He will judge all people in righteousness and judgment (Rom. 2:5-7, Rev. 20:11-15). Tuck yourself in with Him. He desires to throw the blanket of His love and forgiveness around you and then grow you into His image. Decide to seek Him. We do not know the number of our days and if this will be our last.
Are you ready to be exposed to the Light of heaven? Are you living in a dark place and the Light will cause you to recoil and hide instead of embracing Him? If so, choose life today — find someone who is living in relationship with Christ that can help you find your way to Him. HOPE awaits you.
Photo credit: Pixabay, VOM