Note: Taking a break from our Black History series today to focus on Lent, but watch for a special guest to finish the month off next week!
It’s Ash Wednesday, friends. The beginning of Lent, when believers round the world will take time to look into ourselves—and hopefully, at the Lord—and prepare our hearts in a special way to remember Christ’s death and resurrection, those pivots on which all history turns.
I don’t know about you, but despite many blessings in my own life, I’ve been rather aware of the darkness in the world lately. In the past week I’ve read about the twistedness in Fifty Shades of Grey…the horrific historical reality of racial lynching in our country …the 21 Egyptian Christians martyred just the other day. At times I’ve felt nearly overwhelmed by the darkness in human hearts and the world, and incapable of even really processing or responding to it.
Instead, instinctively I reached out for the opposite…light. To stories of the good and beautiful and pure, and most of all, to Jesus Himself. And soon, I felt better able to manage knowing about the darkness.
Was that escapism? Maybe, I don’t know. But honestly, I don’t think we can cope with darkness without turning towards the light. And I don’t think the Lord intends us to. After all, what is the point of fighting darkness if we don’t have anything better to combat it with?
I talk about darkness quite a bit on this blog… in history, in the world today. But I don’t want to talk about them just to be depressed, but to bring them to the light. And to seek how we can move from the darkness toward healing. As a friend wrote recently on her blog here (referencing a podcast she’d heard), it can be an act of rebellion against darkness merely to live striving for wholeness, and moreover, to believe that there is wholeness to be found.
Ann Voskamp writes in her book The Greatest Gift,
“…for all its supposed sophistication, cynicism is simplistic. In a fallen world, how profound is it to see the cracks? The radicals…and the revolutionaries, they are the ones on the road, in the fields, on the wall, pointing to the light that breaks through all things broken, pointing to redemption always rising…
Brilliant people don’t deny the dark; they are the ones who never stop looking for His light in everything.”
That’s what I see in the stories I love—how they confront the reality of darkness yet show that Light is stronger. I love that in Les Misérables and A Tale of Two Cities and Narnia, and in God’s stories…the Bible and all history. I hope that theme shines through the stories I write too.
So while I don’t want to avoid the darkness this Lent, I want to remember to look for the Light too. After reading about the ickiness in Fifty Shades of Grey, I need to remember what real love is. When I learn of racial injustice, I need to grieve and lament over it, but also look at what God is doing—at stories of real life reconciliation, at the precious interracial relationships He has given me where we can walk together toward hope and healing.
When I read of tragedy in the Middle East, I need to grieve with our brothers and sisters there and pray for them more faithfully, but also remember the stories I’ve heard of how God is working, how He is bringing people to Himself through the love of His children there, how refugees who felt they were completely in darkness have now, in their own words, come into the light—not because of necessarily change in their circumstances, but because of Jesus.
That He really is the Savior, the Light of the world—that those aren’t just nice words on a page, but a living reality.
And that’s what we’re looking toward in Lent, isn’t it? The triumph of His light over darkness—not by ignoring it, but by facing it head-on; not being cowed by it, but overcoming.
Do you have any special plans for Lent this year? How do you counter darkness by looking for the Light? Please comment and share!