God Will Shine a Light

A village where I go in Ecuador is located in a valley, at the foot of a mountain. On the other side of the village is a river, and then a cliff to another mountain. At nighttime, there are streetlights and houses in the village have lights too. But darkness covers the mountains, and you wouldn’t even know that the mountains are there. Except for one thing: there is a light that shines on the mountain above the cliff on the other side of the river. A farmer got electricity in his house a few years ago, and he’s happy to have it. Now because the mountain is basically invisible at night because of the darkness, the light shines almost like a lone star against the sky. Because the mountain is completely dark, the light stands out – and it’s impossible to miss.

4 years ago in that village, the mountains collapsed in a night-long assault of rain and landslides, destroying 6 homes, damaging everything at the foot of the mountain, and threatening to end the village altogether. A year later, a rash of suicides hit the school. At the same time, the Ecuadorian economy fell into a tailspin. Six months after that, the great earthquake of 2016 struck, shaking the village and destroying a home, and putting the economic crisis in 5th gear.

And yet, there was this guy there through it all, with a big fundraiser to help all the people who lost homes rebuild. To provide therapy to the kids in the school and start a youth group, putting the suicides to an end. To help form community and the type of sharing that helps everyone weather the economic storm. Now, the village has reinvested in itself, and things are looking better than ever. My last trip there, I ran into someone from the village while getting on the bus in Quito. She lit up when she saw me, she was excited that I was coming (OK, I make it a surprise). “We are blessed when you come,” she told me. When the darkness is everywhere, God always shines a light that you can’t miss.

We have all heard about the Old Testament prophets. They have a lot of criticism and bad news to share. Doom and gloom it’s called. It’s because there’s a lot to complain about: there’s a lot of injustice in Israel, and they are not being very faithful to their covenant with God. People in the north have a lot of resources and power and wealth, and the people in the south are on the other side of the wall. It is very much like the Americas today. So, the prophets have a message of darkness. Lots of darkness.

But then, if you look closely, there’s a passage about something wonderful. There’s this spectacular news that, in the end, God is going to reconcile things, and everyone is going to recover from the pain that is coming on the horizen. In fact, afterwards, it’s going to be even *better* than before! This news shines like a bright light in the midst of the total darkness that the prophet is constantly proclaiming.

So, why is God sending prophets like that? What the prophet is doing, is getting that effect you’d get from seeing that mountain in Ecuador: put the light in the middle of total darkness, and you can’t miss it. God is saying, when everything is dark, I am going to always shine a light. That’s what faith is. It’s to believe that whenever everything is total darkness, God makes light shine. It’s to really know that, from the beginning of creation all throughout history, that’s what God does.

After giving Bartimaeus his sight, Jesus says that his faith saved him. What was his faith? Waiting all that time in the darkness of his blindness, knowing that God would – some day – shine light. And now the day had arrived, and nothing was going to stop him from going to that light. That is his faith.

There is a part of the Gospel of Luke where Jesus shares what is called the Sermon on the Plain. In that, he starts off the whole thing saying the poor, the sad, the hungry, the rejected, well, they are all blessed. The rich, the happy, the full, and the popular, well, they have their reward. What are they missing? And what are the others in the darknesses of life getting, that makes them blessed?

Seeing the light.

When darkness comes in life, don’t be afraid. Have faith. No, it’s not easy for any of us, which is why we have prophets to help us. Remember that if you are experiencing darkness, you are blessed. Try to find ways to be patient and aware of what’s coming about. Because someone, something special will eventually come that you’ll want to run to, that will give you a little taste of the divine. That will dispel the darkness.

Wait for it.

God never changes, and will always do what He always has done.

God will shine a light.

He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”
Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
Immediately he received his sight
and followed him on the way.
(Mk 10:51-52)

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