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Children of Light

March 5, 2023

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16

For you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light . . . and find out what pleases the Lord.” Ephesians 5: 8-10

One thing I do know that though I was blind, now I see.” John 9:25 

Christians are people of hope, yet we find ourselves in the midst of despair as we read and watch the news of the Ukraine war, earthquakes, school shootings, and other tragedies around the world.  Not to mention that we are finally emerging from a pandemic that killed over a million people around the world.  Millions of people are displaced and isolated in a dark wilderness during this Lenten season. 

This week’s psalm was written during the time that David was hiding from Saul and his men at En Gedi.   En Gedi is a box canyon, and David must have felt “boxed in” or imprisoned during the ten years that he hid in caves while he was on the run from Saul: “Set me free from my prison . . .” (Psalm 142: 7).   The psalm is a desperate prayer for deliverance.   David was in a dark place, hiding from Saul and feeling very alone: “I cry aloud to the Lord, I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.  I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell him my trouble . . . No one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life . . . You are my refuge . . . Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me.”  Psalm 142: 1, 4-6).  David knew how it felt to be pursued by enemies who sought his downfall.   He knew how it felt to be isolated and alone.  He was as familiar with dark places in his life as we are with the dark places in our lives. 

We can empathize with the loneliness and despair that David must have felt during the ten years he was hiding out from Saul.  Like David, we wonder when it will end.  Like David, we live with uncertainty.  

En Gedi met many of David’s requirements for a hide-out—including water and food sources.  In January 2020 we hiked to one of the large waterfalls in the canyon which sustains ample plant and animal life, including the ibex—a type of wild mountain goat.  But being provided with the basics of shelter, food, and water to sustain life does not ensure our well-being—particularly if we or someone we love is being pursued by foes, is experiencing financial reverses, is isolated and fearful, or is suffering from a war, a natural disaster, or debilitating illness. 

This week’s Scripture lessons[1] focus on moving from the dark places of pain and despair to places of light and hope.  These Scriptures acknowledge that despite our brave smiles and quick response of “Fine” to a friend’s “How are you?”–that we are all hurting at some level at any given time.  We are not always as fine as we let on.  We worry about our work, our health, our kids, our relationships, our finances, wars and rumors of war, and a myriad of other things.  God knows that and he assures us that he is with us at all times–that when we seek him, he will lead us into the light.  He will bring us out of the darkness of the problems that haunt us, and light our way along the path he wants us to take.  Jesus is the hope, the light of the world. 

Isaiah 42 describes how the Messiah will come and rescue us.  He will gently pick us up and carry us from dark places, our blind spots, and lead us to the truth that can withstand the scrutiny of sunshine: “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them” (Isaiah 42:16). 

John wrote: “One thing I do know that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). Though most of us are not literally blind, we are often blind to God’s presence in our lives. You can’t help but think of the first few lines of the hymn Amazing Grace when you read the Scripture texts for this week: “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.”

The Epistle lesson continues the theme of living in Christ’s light by warning us to “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11). “Fruitless deeds of darkness” are activities that separate us from God–anything that cannot withstand the scrutiny of daylight, resulting in sin. 

Pride is one blind spot that results in sin.  The gospel lesson recounts the story of the blind man whose sight was restored by Jesus.  But the Pharisees were too proud—too jealous and threatened by Jesus’ powers–to accept that Jesus had given sight to this man who had been blind since birth.  The blind man was cross-examined about it several times.  First, his neighbors questioned him. Second, the Pharisees grilled him.  Third, the Pharisees questioned the man’s parents, who told them to ask the man: “Ask him, he is of age. He will speak for himself” (John 9: 21).  Fourth, the Pharisees cross-examined the man again, and refused to believe him.  Why? Because of their own blindness to who Jesus was and their unwillingness to accept the truth.  They were threatened by Jesus’ power.  Have you been passed over and ignored because your hard work and good results made others jealous?  Jesus knows how you feel. You are not alone.

Amazing strides have been made in ophthalmology in recent years.  The “before and after” testimonials of people who have had cataract surgery are quite amazing.  Many years ago, when I was in private practice, I had a client in her 80’s who had very bad cataracts.  Her nephew finally convinced her to have cataract surgery.  I will never forget her exhilaration over her newfound sight.  That is the exhilaration we feel when we let Jesus’ light guide us to the path he has set before us.  He leads us out of our caves of fear and darkness into the light of faith and blessed assurance.  Our journey to the light, to Jesus, is not always a straight and easy path.  There may be obstacles and setbacks along the way.  But we need to hold onto our hope in Christ Jesus.

Desmond Tutu said “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Jesus is your hope.  Hold on.  He’s coming for you.  

Prayer: “Lord, I rejoice that nothing can come between me and your love, even when I feel alone or in difficulty, when in sickness or am troubled.  Even if attacked or afraid, no abyss of mine is so deep that your love is not deeper still.  Lord, you have experienced many hells of this world but descended so that you can lift us up.  Be always near.”  Corrie ten Boom (WWII survivor of Ravensbruck concentration camp).

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan


[1] The Scripture texts for the Fourth Sunday in Lent are Psalm 142; Isaiah 42: 14-21; Ephesians 5: 8-14; John 9: 1-41.  A similar version of this blog was published on March 20, 2017.

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