A Witness: Light in the Darkness
A long-time friend gave me this wonderful ceramic magnet during the first week of Advent this year. Amazingly, she had remembered our conversation from five years ago when this statement became my handshake of hope.
“God is good … All the time.”
“All the time … God is good.”
This magnet has been sitting on my desktop from the day it was given to me. “Witness to hope!” it keeps calling. So I shall.
I clung to the shining words, “God is good” during the darkest part of my life, after my husband’s aorta began to tear one sunny August morning. He had to be helicoptered to the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania for emergency open heart surgery to replace a section of his aorta. So complex was the damage, after eight hours of surgery, the surgeon told me he didn’t know when Tim might wake up.
Others might consider “God is good .. all the time” naively simplistic. I’m here to testify that this lean-to of spiritual sticks protected me from drowning in the tsunami of medical and emotional drama we lived over the next few weeks.
It happened this way.
People would ask me how Tim and I were doing, and I could not answer. Sometimes I was physically incapable because I was just regaining my ability to speak after recently having had tongue surgery. Sometimes I was emotionally overwhelmed and just couldn’t afford to open the door to share my feelings when I needed every ounce of energy to focus on Tim’s care. Sometimes I simply could not self-edit to tell only the highlights. Often, I could only groan inwardly and try to smile outwardly.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26
I found myself responding to questions with “God is good” and trying to believe it
Then a gurney attendant came into Tim’s room and asked, “How are you doing today?”
I heard myself mindlessly answer through my fatigue, “God is good.”
The quick response came like a spark in a dark cave, “All the time.”
Startled, I looked more intently and offered tentatively, “All the time … “
“ … God is good,” countered the smiling attendant.
A candle of hope flickered in my heart.
This verbal handshake told me that I was in the company of the Spirit and being carried with great compassion. I couldn’t remember any scripture. I couldn’t focus on a devotional. I couldn’t recall any songs. But I could say, “God is good … All the time.”
And I did. Daily. I received the Spirit’s comfort from total strangers in this way. Even when the spiritual handshake was not returned, just speaking my hope aloud strengthened my faith. Hope was alive! I began celebrating how God WAS demonstrating goodness, in the midst of our painful circumstances. Blessings beyond measure, beyond imagination.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11: 1
What season are you in right now? Are Advent and Christmas darkened seasons for you? Church demands intensify, often squeezing all the life out of clergy family living. Maybe you feel weary in body and spirit. Maybe you privately wonder if God is really providing for you in this season. Maybe you’re struggling, like I did, how to answer, “How are you doing?” truthfully.
This spiritual handshake allows me to respond truthfully, without wrapping my answer in the long to-do list of tasks or worries I’m slogging through. Speaking it aloud reminds me that when I’m in the dark, it’s not about how I’m DOING. That only perpetuates the darkness.
It’s about who God is BEING.
That’s the light by which I can put my feelings and doings into perspective. God is the hope that conquers the darkness.
God is good … All the time.
All the time … God is good.
Thanks be to God!
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
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