A New Year implies a fresh start. It provides the opportunity to “refresh” our lives. We have been quite blessed the past couple of years. One year we were handed struggles that enabled us to grow into stronger people. I believe God gave me the struggles I have faced over the past number of years to grow me in Him, to bring me closer to Him. I am reminded of a quote my little brother has shared with me often – I’ve come home and he had been at our house for something while we were out, our mirror now read “the night is always darkest before the dawn.” It’s from a song I believe. But it’s so beautiful and meaningful in many different ways.
If it never grew dark, would be ever truly appreciate light? (This starts a short blog series on struggles, growth, faith and perseverance – stay tuned for the next post!).
Think of it this way, it’s a blizzard outside, mid-January or February on PEI perhaps; (For all you southerners, use your imaginations) all of a sudden, blink, blink and off goes the electricity. At first, this is fine, enjoyable even. Peace and quiet. You are now forced to enjoy each other’s company, dig deeper into your devotional time, pick up a good book, something that requires little but yourself or those surrounding you. But, the novelty of “peace and quiet” soon wears off as the house gets colder, meal time draws near, the toddler tries to continually flush the toilet despite your attempts to keep him out of the bathroom (in the country this means your toilet does not fill back up – as you have no water if you have no electricity). And you just start to think, wow, I just wish the power would come back on, you just want to have running water, the ability to open the fridge and just look inside, even just a minimal amount of heat so everyone can take off their second pair of socks and long johns- while indoors!
Literal “darkness” in this case reminds you of many daily and regular things that you take advantage of every single day. This darkness reminds you how thankful you are for these little “simple pleasures.” That of which really aren’t small at all, but we have become so accustomed to them that we just have an attitude of ungrateful expectancy for them when we arise each new morning. God grants us these blessings every moment of every day. He deserves much more than thankfulness, but perhaps we should at least start there?!
Now, “darkness” also means much more than the lights literally being out. I am sure you can relate that when you are facing life’s tough moments it feels “dark.” Darkness can imply a sense of feeling alone, being surrounded by the unknown, and feeling somewhat helpless. Struggles are dark. Much like when the power goes out, they can come at us fast and hard. They strip you of the “little luxuries” that you didn’t even realize were a luxury. Struggle can be defined in different ways; I am referring to struggle in the meaning of experiencing something of great difficulty, which requires a very great effort to free from or even function normally. God gives us these struggles though.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2 (NIV)
Notice the usage of wording – “whenever you face trials” – not “if you face trials.” So, although I do understand this is not entirely comforting to be told you WILL face struggles or “trials” (you’d have to be living under one dang big rock to think otherwise though), it is reassuring that everyone will face these and the experience WILL produce a greater strength within us. I personally experienced this (and continue to regularly). The most important things to remember when a struggle comes our way are: “pray unceasingly,” be reminded it will pass and you will grow through and from it, take a step back and be thankful for what you do have right now. At any moment the power can go out. The only thing worse than being in the dark, is being in the dark alone because you aren’t thankful and don’t feel His presence.