The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
In the Dark
We hate what we can’t see. It terrifies us because we know it’s there, yet we have no way of gauging its proximity to us, its size, whether or not it’s poised to strike. Incapable of judging its posture and expression, we can’t ascertain if it’s a legitimate threat or just something else, like us, lost in the dark. Sometimes, after light comes, we find out there’s nothing or no one there at all. But until we can see, we live in the grips of constant fear.
Isaiah wrote, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isaiah 9.2) Today, we appreciate this more as poetry than prophecy. But when it first was written, darkness was an entity unto itself. It couldn’t be dispelled with the flick of a switch. When it fell over primitive societies, it was best to stay put. You didn’t walk into the night unless it was unavoidable. (If you did, you sure didn’t travel alone.) Old Testament writers consistently equated darkness and death—“the place of no return.” (Job 10.12) So, when Isaiah portrayed Christ’s coming as “a great light,” he promised more than illumination. He promised life.
The Light of Life
“I am the light of the world,” Jesus said in John 8.12, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We should dial back our modern familiarity with light and hear His words as if we actually stood among His listeners. To their ears, His statement was flabbergasting. If they heard Him correctly, by following Him they would never again be endangered because He would provide them life-saving light! They’d always know where they were, who and what were around them, and where they going. The enormity of this idea overwhelmed them.
Facing Our Fears
Christ’s path is not for the faint-hearted or easily frightened. It takes us down dark alleys and leads through shady places. With little or no warning, rejection, sickness, doubt, heartbreak, loneliness and every other imaginable danger loom up, suddenly plunging us into impenetrable darkness. If we fall back on old behaviors, we tremble. Either we stand, locked in paralysis, or we try to feel our way through it alone, hoping we’ll avoid injury and harm.
But we’re not alone. We have the Light of life. And here’s what’s most amazing about that. When Christ’s light conquers our darkness, it enables us to face the fears hidden inside it. We see them for what they are—needless anxieties over people and things we can’t control. We may never defeat them, but we can always find ways to circumnavigate them. They lose their power over us. With the Lord as our light and salvation, there’s nothing—and no one—to fear.
Once Christ, the Light of life, breaks into our darkness, we can face the fears it concealed.
(Tomorrow: Our Hope)