Bible and cross

Anyone being overwhelmed by the darkness out there? To us “can-do” American optimists, is it possible that these days some of us may be almost ready to cry “uncle?” We give up. We may just not be made of the right stuff after all.

Os Guinness, a powerful Christian writer and witness, looking at some mighty dark days for some of God’s people off in Babylon, reflected on a time in the Israelites’ history when their spirits were near despair, when hope was overwhelmed by the darkness of the present. In one of his many books, “Renaissance,” he directs his readers to a scene out of the prophet, Ezekiel. The scene is out in a valley of dry bones, and God asks his prophet, “Can these bones live?” To which Ezekiel in his own despair could only say, “O Lord God, You know.”

Ezekiel has come up against a depth of darkness, a length of time of suffering that he has come to see as beyond simple human effort to turn into light. He realizes that there are some things in the world, in which he finds himself, beyond human resolution. Can these very dry bones live? Can life come after death? Is the dawning of a new day inevitably on its way?

To the naturalist in all of us, we can only say that surely the rising of the sun will come. We will inevitably experience the banishing of the darkness of this pandemic, the brutal scorning of one another will pass. Yes, all this will end, and we will be at the center of bringing light out of the darkness.

To be sure there is much that we are called to do. There are those leading the way to minimize the suffering, to reduce the numbers of the horrific death tolls from this insidious virus. And yes, there are leaders in other realms seeking to bring us to a better place. We can do much to see that this land experiences light coming out of darkness.

I, for one, however, along with many others, would call us to confess with Ezekiel: “O Lord God, You know.” The darkness is not only the absence of light we must give. There is now, as there has always been, darkness that can only be described adequately as evil. Yes, this evil can reside in our own hearts, leading us to turn in on ourselves and strike out at one another. Indeed, we can turn from our Creator and Redeemer God, and without even knowing how we got to this point, end up in despair.

Thankfully, our heavenly Father, his beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit can and do turn darkness to light. “The darkest hour is truly just before dawn.” This is a dawn that is not as inevitable as the sunrise. It is a dawn born of God’s passion to bring us hope, life out of death. Thanks be to God.

The Rev. Paul Knudson is a pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Hutchinson.