The Far Gone Darkness

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Original photo by Alex France

Daily Reform, Isaiah 2:1-5

From the Reformer

[Luther] continued in the University of Wittenberg, where, as professor of divinity, he employed himself in the business of his calling. Here then he began in the most earnest manner to read lectures upon the sacred books: he explained the Epistle to the Romans, and the Psalms, which he cleared up and illustrated in a manner so entirely new, and so different from what had been pursued by former commentators, that “there seemed, after a long and dark night, a new day to arise, in the judgment of all pious and prudent men.”

—John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

Pulling It Together

A friend’s wife died of cancer. A month later, the day before Thanksgiving, his son-in-law was struck by lightning and killed. Of course, he wanted to know why these things happened. More than once, the statement was made that, “It isn’t fair.” One can offer no explanation that consoles in these times of intense pain. The fact remains that this unfairness, this darkness, this death is part and parcel of life. If we keep our eyes open, it almost always seems dark. As the Book of Common Prayer says, “In the midst of life we are in death.” (Burial Service) From time to time, some light breaks in and we grow quickly accustomed to it—as though light and fairness and life are our due. Soon enough the darkness settles in again.

There are only three responses to such a life: ignorance, despair, or hope. When Isaiah spoke of the coming light, there was darkness in Jerusalem. His counsel? “Come, let us walk in the light.” Luther too, saw light in a dark time of the Church. The prophet and the Reformer each responded to life with neither ignorance nor despair. Despite the darkness of their respective times, they preached light.

Even so, our response to sad and dark times must be one of hope. For the hopeful person, even in the midst of anguish, the night is far gone and even now, the light is breaking on the horizon.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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