This week in the aftermath of the worst massacre in modern US history, a friend pleaded on facebook:
“I’m so mad. So mad that, once again, my children look at me trying desperately to understand how someone could do something like this. They want to believe in the good in the world, in people. To have hope for the future. What do I say? Look for the helpers? I’m sick and tired of saying that.
I know there will be countless stories of heroism & self-sacrifice to come of Las Vegas, but these people should have never been in this predicament in the first place.”
My heart broke for her and her children as it does for everyone else trying to find their way through the chaos and evil that seems so much a part of our existence in the present. And in trying to deal with my despair and hopelessness, I sought out stories of comfort that I could bring to the blog today, to help us all find a pathway, serve as a light, through such senseless tragedy.
I seldom discuss the process involved in deciding what to post, but today it seems important to do so. I originally thought I would write about a movie entitled Akeelah and the Bee, and if you haven’t seen it, it is worth watching. But I came across a quote from that movie that led me down a different bunny trail. Here’s the quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God…We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same…” Though attributed to Nelson Mandela in the movie, it’s actually a quote from Marianne Williamson.
And while I believe in the veracity of this quote, it didn’t lead me further into Akeelah and the Bee. Instead, it brought to mind my two favorite stories of all time: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Harry Potter series. The reasons are probably quite obvious; both stories are about light vanquishing darkness, and right now I think we could all use some help in finding light in the midst of darkness.
Some Commonality of Language
Before I talk about this, however, I want to clarify what I mean by light and dark. In both Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings as well as in Scripture, darkness is symbolic of evil while light symbolizes goodness, wisdom, understanding, and love. All three have the same major theme: It is the light of love and sacrifice that ultimately saves the world from evil. But notice that I say ultimately.
Finding Light in the Midst of Darkness
As it is in life so it is in the tales; victory, sadly, doesn’t come with just a single effort. Most often, it is a culmination of struggles that lead to triumph. But rest assured, those skirmishes are not without purpose. As we saw with Harry, Hermione, Ron and Neville, the more they dealt with struggles, the more they learned and grew, and the more unstoppable they became.
It was the same with Frodo, Samwise, Merry, Pippin, Strider, even Boromir and Gandalf. They became heroes because their battles brought out their compassion, love and willingness to sacrifice by breaking their hearts.
The truth is, if we are to find a pathway through these dark times, then we simply must find a light source to help us along the way. I think Marianne’s quote is spot on: we have a light within us that comes from being image bearers of God. It is a light of love, joy, peace, patience, sacrifice, kindness, gentleness, and goodness, and it alone is capable of guiding us through evil and dark times.
Nevertheless, it isn’t a light without a source. It doesn’t spontaneously appear in the heart of a man. No amount of evolution could produce that. So, I would ask that you simply consider these verses from Psalms as a possibility, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?…Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.” The rest of the psalm continues to offer encouragement and hope, and I would recommend reading it in full, but consider how the psalm ends: “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say on the Lord!”
The goodness of the Lord walks in the land of the living. That’s you, your children, and anyone else who chooses to walk in the light of love and sacrifice. So, be of great courage. Stand fast in the knowledge that good will prevail because the God of Light will guide you in your soul.
I’ll leave you with these quotes to encourage you along the dark way.
From Francis Bacon: “In order for light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”
From Dumbledore to Harry: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
From Lord of the Rings: “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.”
Live Loved by the God of Light. Give Love, and you will be the light to someone’s path, helping them to find their light in the midst of darkness.