Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Glimpse into the Darkness

2Cor. 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

1John 1:5b “God is light; in him there is no darkness”

In 1994 I was doing medical relief work in crisis areas of the world. That was the year of the genocide in Rwanda. My task was to reopen the central hospital in Kigali, the capital city. The massacres continued after we arrived. It was one of the darkest times in human history – neighbor killing neighbor, simply due to tribal differences.

We worked long hours treating the injuries and diseases of war. The hospital where we worked had also suffered damage with no running water or electricity. Fighting continued in and around the city. Nearby firefights were not unusual.

One night about 4 AM, I was caring for critically injured patients when the sights and sounds of small arms and mortar fire stole my attention. The flashes were coming through an artillery shell hole in the wall of the hospital ward. As I watched and listened, I experienced something I never wish to face again. It was as though the presence of God withdrew and the horrors of darkness, disease and death overwhelmed me. It lasted only a moment, but far too long. The dread and despair were more than I could have managed, had God not quickly restored His presence and peace. I live with this memory of darkness and hopelessness in a world apart from God, and am now all the more thankful for God’s common grace in our world and His specific grace in my life.

Dr. Gene Rudd

For most of us there exists complacency in our lives regarding the presence of God. Except for formal worship experiences and brief times of devotion, we assume that God is present and keep that assumption from affecting our daily operations. Most of us wake up, walk through our day and fall to sleep at night with a background assumption that God is near; but we don’t intentionally seek him or actively acknowledge his presence---unless we need to cry out for help. We live as if: when life is good, God is resting; when life goes horribly wrong, we need to wake him up to fix a world that has missed his inactivity. Little do we appreciate his constant common grace with which “he upholds the universe by the word of his power”. (Heb 1:3 ESV)

Militant atheists and skeptics declare that there can be no God with such suffering as Rwanda in the world. We listen with sympathy to their argument, disbelieving but unable to disagree with conviction.

Only occasionally does God remove His hand long enough---in the destructive impossibility of an addiction, in the horror of a genocide or in the realization of our own personal sin---for us to see the world as it would be if God should take His hand completely away, if He should remove His common grace and let us slide to hell on our own. A new Creation is coming through the great Redemptive story, but it has not yet arrived and, presently, in both Rwanda and the US, our world is absolutely dependent on His sustaining hand.

Dear God,

Thank you for holding your creation together until you come again to make it new. Thank you for your light when the darkness closes in.


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