Ever since I was a little boy, I never liked the dark.
I remember being terrified that someone would break into my family’s home while we were asleep and try to kidnap me or my sister. I probably wasn’t the first child to have this fear, and I had my fair share of night lights to provide just enough glimmer of visibility to help me drift off to sleep.
As an adult I have had plenty of nights when I have woken up at two or three in the morning to be greeted by an eerie silent pitch black room. I am usually somewhat disoriented and feel a terrible sadness as I try to fight my thoughts and emotions for another few hours of sleep. I couldn’t tell you why this happens, I probably could do some research, but what I do know is that these moments are the ones that I can identify most easily with the word hopelessness. A word that in my mind reveals a thought or feeling that the situation you find yourself in is incredibly dire and there will never be any way out. I have come to associate hopelessness with darkness.
On the other hand, I love the light. Waking up on a crisp autumn morning with the sun beaming through my window always gives me such a sense of optimism and joy. It's as if the light presents a new day with endless opportunities and possibilities. I also enjoy going on a long drive or walk as the sun comes up early in the morning bringing wonderful clarity to the quickly passing uncertainty of the oppressive night. Light has become my favorite symbol for hope.
I see this same theme present throughout the Bible.
God Spoke Hope Into the World
Genesis 1:2 says, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” Our world started off as a dark lifeless place without any form, purpose or future.
In the very next few verses God takes this hopeless void and turns it into a lush beautiful world full of life. How does He start to do this? He simply says, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) and the next verse tells us that “God saw that the light was good.” God provided hope by simply speaking the world to life, and He chose to start with light.
Sadly, in Genesis 3 sin enters the world allowing mankind to spiral out of control. Some of the most evil actions occur at night, such as the attempted rape of two angels in Sodom (Genesis 19) and the horrific murder of a Levite’s concubine in Judges 19. By the end of the old testament the world seems to be at another point of hopelessness as God’s chosen people are trying to rebuild after the terrible destruction they faced from foreign nations.
At the start of the New Testament, we are introduced to Jesus, the perfect light of the world. In John 1:1-5 we see that “in him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness and yet the darkness did not overcome it.” Jesus had come to bring life to a spiritually dead world. The life He was bringing would provide light for people and it would be so powerful that evil (or darkness) did not stand a chance.
Even when everything seemed lost as Jesus was crucified and darkness covered the whole land from noon until three (Matthew 27:45), Jesus reappeared alive just a few days later. Matthew 28:3 states that “his appearance was like lightning and his clothing was as white as snow.” Jesus survived the darkest day of all humanity only to appear as bright as lighting, allowing His power to visibly burst back into the world. Death seemed to overtake the most powerful man to walk the earth. But in an incredible turn of events, we see that our hope for eternal life and spiritual awakening couldn’t be stopped.
No More Darkness
As the book of Revelation comes to a close we find that “night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). Darkness of any kind will be a thing of the past.
What I find interesting when I look at light and darkness (hope and hopelessness) is that these themes seem to go back and forth throughout the overall narrative of Scripture. I have found this to be very true in my life. I have experienced seasons that were challenging and seemingly very hopeless. I thought they would never end. I have also enjoyed points in my life of incredible hope and joy. My life has gone back and forth, and I would think that nearly everyone experiences this even if at varying degrees.
The beauty of the Bible and the Gospel is that we have ultimate confidence that the hope we long for, the hope for eternal life and perfect harmony with our Father through Jesus’ selfless sacrifice, will be fully realized. This certainty allows us to be spurred on when we face overwhelming challenges or trials that seem to never end, and find even more joy when we see ourselves prosper or succeed.
Hope is one of the most powerful gifts the father has given us. And we get the opportunity to see the world and our lives through its lens every single day.
Read More About Hope from God's Word
"Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! I say, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him."
"Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday."
"Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."