Light a Candle

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

“It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Light-CandleSome days, everywhere I look I see darkness—depression, divorces, death, evictions, job losses, chronic pain, the ravages of addiction, church woundedness, the damage of emotional and physical abuse. Life in the trenches can be overwhelming, and during these times I wonder, “Where is the Good News in these hard places? What does hope look like in the midst of despair? When will my friends ever find relief? When will I feel peace?”

It’s so easy to get discouraged.

And then I remember that just because it’s dark, it doesn’t mean there’s no light.

Just because circumstances are ugly, it doesn’t mean there is no beauty in the midst. Just because things are hard, it doesn’t mean there’s a complete absence of mercy. Just because there’s dissonance, it doesn’t mean there also can’t be peace.

One of the most significant things I continue to learn on this downward journey is what it means to live in the tension of  this paradox in my own life, in the lives of my friends, in God. Life can be full of good and bad, knowns and unknowns, depravity and dignity, hard and easy, dark and light. At the same time.

Embracing this is not natural; in fact, it’s completely against my human tendency to want things to be clear—and not just kind of clear. I like crystal clear. I like to know which category to put things in. But when I do that, the scales usually tip toward the dark.

It can be easy to think that our society has become worse—more depraved over the years. But in reality, since the beginning of time, the spirit of darkness has been at work, pulling people toward power, evil, self-centeredness, separation, loneliness, hate, and corruption. This is nothing new. When it comes to these things, the world that Jesus entered as a baby wasn’t all that different than the world we live in now; the same issues apply and many are still looking for the same things that they were looking for 2,000 years ago: justice, mercy, help, hope, understanding, love, and light.

But I think what happened to them then, and what keeps happening to us, is that we look for the dark to suddenly become light. We want a dramatic rescue, immediate results, a clear explanation, a miraculous healing.

One of the things that I love about the gospels is how completely contrary Jesus was to what people expected. They wanted a strong king, not a humble servant. They wanted an acceptable interpretation of the law, not riddles that no one could easily understand. They wanted black and white, not gray.

This force is still at work in numerous ways, causing so many of us to feel disappointed, confused, and abandoned by God. Oh, how I understand that feeling! Almost every time something goes awry in my life, the first place I tend to go is, “I must be doing something wrong or it wouldn’t be so dark.” Then I spend so much energy praying desperately for the dark to be gone that I sometimes completely forget to notice the light.

This world is hard. It is harsh. This side of heaven there are some things I will never see healed the way that I want them to be healed, and there will be injustices that will never be made completely right. I’ll admit, this reality really ticks me off.

But then I remember that Jesus didn’t promise that this dark world would suddenly become light. Instead, He promised tastes of the kingdom now, that He would shine his reflection through us and be constantly at work redeeming, restoring, and bringing glory until we all take our last breath.

Until then, I want to remember that in the midst of this dark world, my best hope—our best hope—is not to spend energy cursing the darkness. All that yelling at it hasn’t seemed to make it go away (although I do believe a good cursing now and then can feel really cathartic). What seems to help the most is to light a candle.

To call out the good that others might not see.

To practice love instead of hate.

To celebrate what is instead of what isn’t.

To notice God’s image in the midst of the rubble.

To honor any sliver of light, good, hope, mercy, justice, kindness, compassion, we possibly can.

To celebrate the beauty in the midst of the ugly.

To notice the light in the midst of the dark.

Yeah, willing the darkness away never seems to work. But there are an awful lot of candles that sure could use lighting.  Maybe that’s our most important role as Christ’s hands and feet—to be candle lighters for each other.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Kathy Escobar
Kathy Escobar co-pastors The Refuge, an eclectic faith community in North Denver dedicated to those on the margins of life and faith. She blogs regularly about life and faith at kathyescobar.com and is the author of Down We Go--Living out the Wild Ways of Jesus in Action. She lives in Arvada, Colorado with her husband, Jose, and five kids. Her most recent book Faith Shift can be found on Amazon.com
Kathy Escobar

Latest posts by Kathy Escobar (see all)

Kathy Escobar
  • Anne-Marie

    Kathy, you blessed me in a heart wrenching moment. So needed! I think I can get on w my day – thank you!

    • thinking of you & your tender heart. hope light and hope come in!

  • cjdeboer

    What a beautiful beautiful post Kathy – thank you so much for bringing hope and light to many people walking through darkness. To notice God’s image in the midst of the rubble is something I know I need to be more perceptive towards, as well as being that candlelight for others. xo

    • thanks for sharing. there’s an awful lot of beauty to uncover in this crazy world!

  • abby

    Kathy, this is beautiful and right along side everything God is teaching me right now. To look for Him – for beauty – for LOVE – who HE is in the midst of everything. Even in the ugly He is still good and God. And in the light of His presence I will find beauty even if it’s only in the two steps slightly illuminated in front of me.
    http://www.predatory-lies.com

    • thanks abby. yes, let’s keep looking for Love!

  • Stacy

    So beautiful. This is totally what I am learning right now, how to live in the tension of both. “I want to remember that in the midst of this dark world, my best hope—our best hope—is not to spend energy cursing the darkness.” Learning that despite terror, there is comfort. Despite frustrated despair, there is a loud whisper of hope. There is secure love in a hostile world. Lighting a candle tonight, aaand there are a lot to choose from. 🙂

    • amen, sister!

    • ha ha on the candles; i was at dawn’s and saw how many refuge candles she had all over the place. that is our gift to the world, dollar store candles made hopeful 🙂

  • fiona lynne

    I have been learning this past year to live in this tension. And not just endure it, but look for the light, as you so beautiful write: “to celebrate the beauty in the midst of the ugly”. It becomes a prophetic act, I think, when we start to live this way.

    • thanks fiona, yeah, i am good at enduring it, but learning how to see the beauty is what i hope for…i love thinking of that as a prophetic act.

  • Pingback: Weekend links 8.11.13 | with the kids()

  • ultimately, treating others the way i hope to be treated changes all dark into light. it’s very powerful. thanks for writing this kathy.

  • pena

    I am pena from Florida.I had a problem with my husband,because he was going out with another woman,i could not sleep at night and we had a 8months old baby and it seems that he was charmed by the woman he was going out with.A friend of mine told me to contact Dr Jefferson which i did and guess what my husband left the woman after 4 days and came back home to his family and he apologised for his wrong doings.I am so happy now and fulfilled.Contact him if you need his assistance. doctorjeffersontemple@gmail.com