Words of hope

But God’s light breaks through our darkness July 28, 2022

2 Peter 1:19-20 You must pay close attention to what the prophets wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. … Those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

Have you ever been in a dark place, and found that words of Scripture were like a light, bringing you hope? I would love for you to share that experience with But God readers, to encourage us.

I heard Elise Massa and Andy Clark’s new song, “O Gracious Light” just in time for this post. Elise and Andy collaborated at a Resound Worship Songwriters Retreat in Yorkshire, England a couple of weeks ago. If you’re a worship artist, check out United Adoration!

One such experience: Karis was in the ICU for 75 days straight in 2004-2005, not expected to live. That space became claustrophobic for me.

One morning I read Psalm 118 in the NIV. When I reached verse 5, the light went on: When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. “Oh Lord!” I prayed. “Please, please do this for me.” And he did. He allowed the walls of that high pressure place to recede. He filled the space with light and gave lightness to my spirit. I often remembered as I re-entered the ICU C.S. Lewis’s phrase about the stable in The Last Battle, that it was bigger inside than it was outside.

The NLT renders Psalm 118:5 like this: In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. In what way or ways has the Lord set you free? Please tell us!!

Shutterstock: Stanislavskyi

I, Jesus, am the bright morning star (Revelation 22:16).

The crack is how the light gets in

But God loved the world 

John 3:16-17 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son … God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

Romans 8:1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

James 1:16 Every good and perfect gift comes down to us from God our Father.

When I was in high school and in awe (I still am) of my later to become sister-in-law Elaine, we had a (for me) eye-opening discussion of John 3:16-21. I was steeped in judgment—my parents judged me, my school judged me, I judged myself—always as inadequate and unworthy of love. I naturally believed God viewed me the same way. I had no concept of him as a loving Father.

Elaine showed me in these verses and John 5:24 that people’s natural state was judgment, but God had done everything necessary to change that. All we had to do to pass from death to life (John 5:24) was to accept God’s love through Jesus’ life and sacrifice in our place.

Sometimes I forget and continue to judge and condemn myself. This Advent, I’m asking God to take me to a new level of understanding of his love for me as my Father NOT based on my performance. I’m trying to listen more to his words of love and less to my own inner critic.

What about you? What do you long for from your Father in this season of gift-giving?

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in        Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

Shutterstock: makasana photo

But God’s love strengthens us, by Chris Daly

1 Corinthians 8:2 But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.

Psalm 23:6 Goodness and grace will pursue me every day of my life.

Death’s Dark Ravine

Ilyas Orasbayev: Shutterstock

Alzheimer’s had robbed my mother of nearly everything over the last ten years of her life—speech, mobility, even her personality. But not her soul, who she really was.

Sitting by her bedside in March 2020 while she was drawing near to heaven, I began to read Psalm 23 to Mom, hoping it would be a comfort to her heart.

In my quest to let this well-loved portion of Scripture really rest with us and let the Lord speak to us through it, I read Psalm 23 to Mom, day and night, in every version of the Spanish and English Bibles I found on YouVersion. Spanish was Mom’s first language, so I had started a few years earlier to sometimes speak, play music, sing, and read to Mom in Spanish– in case it still connected with her soul.   

I began to write my own paraphrase of Psalm 23, and in looking at ten or eleven versions of the Bible, the Holy Spirit gifted me with a personalized vision of His Shepherd’s heart for me and my mother. His joy and hope gradually soaked into my deepest being. My heart was saturated, just as Jesus promises in verse five! “You honor me as Your guest, and you fill my cup until it overflows.”

So, in spite of exhaustion and profound grief at seeing my mother withering away in front of us, I experienced God’s presence in a way I never had before. I felt a gentle refreshing of my soul. The Lord hand-fed me with cool restorative water, and gave new life to my desiccated heart. “He leads me by quiet water, He restores my inner person.” (verse 3) 

My Shepherd opened my eyes to understand for the first time that the “enemy watching” was Satan himself. The devil was witness to the feast being spread before me, while Jesus, the Bread of Life, was feeding me Himself to strengthen and renew me.  “You prepare a feast before me, in plain sight of my enemies.” (verse 5)

“Even if I pass through death-dark ravines, I will fear no disaster; for You are with me…Goodness and grace will pursue me every day of my life.“(verses 4, 6). Jesus revealed to me that His compassionate love and His goodness wererunning after me, not passively standing behind me. I had always previously pictured verse 6 to mean that His faithfulness and mercy were following me, lagging behind, casually loitering. But, no! Jesus was chasing me down with His chesed (the Hebrew word that means permanent, covenantal, faithful love), actively running with me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  

It was an enormous, bleak, sometimes pitch-dark valley. But I experienced His tender companionship as a sweet and kind gift–the steadfast love of our Father. (verse 6) And now Mom is enjoying Him face to face, now and forever.