A Wisdom Retreat - May 24

Piercing the Darkness

Psalm 77:6 

I will remember my song in the night . . . 

Darkness is actually more than the absence of light. It is also a place—a place of fear, emptiness, and loneliness.  

A Jewish man named Eliezer Wiesel experienced this darkness and wrote about it in his book, Night. He describes one of the most horrible chapters ever recorded in the history of mankind: the Holocaust. 

As a teenager, Elie Wiesel was sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz during Hitler's maddening reign; later he was moved to the camps at Buna, Buchenwald, and Gleiwitz. According to Elie's testimony, he had seen all the Jews in his village banded together, stripped of their possessions, and loaded into cattle cars. 

He saw his mother, little sister, and all his family disappear into an oven fueled with human flesh. He saw children hanged and weak men killed by fellow prisoners for a piece of bread.

Wiesel wrote of the night the train in which he was riding pulled up at the camp. Coils of ominous black smoke billowed from the tower; beneath it lay the ovens. For the first time in his life, Elie smelled the scent of burning human flesh. He wrote:

Never shall I forget that night, seven times cursed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget that silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust.

That night was dark for Elie Wiesel and many other Jews, but the greater tragedy is that the darkness found its way into Elie's heart. Not only did he watch friends and family die on that fateful night, but he claims that his God died as well.

But there was another person who entered that same dark night; she came forth as a shining light. Her name was Corrie ten Boom. Although she herself was not a Jew, she and her family had been discovered aiding Jews and had been sent to one of the German death camps as well. She, too, saw people murdered, watched her own sister Betsie die from illness in the camp, and felt the gnaw of hunger and the sting of the whip. 

But in her account of the terrible things which transpired all around her, there was a thread of hope. She wrote of the Bible study that some of the Jews held in secret, of the hymn singing, and of the many acts of compassion and sacrifice they offered to one another.  

Throughout her days of blackness, Corrie continued to trust in a God who was at work even in a cave as dark as hers! She would later write, "I discovered that there is not a pit where God's love is not deeper still!"  

Corrie ten Boom could relate to the author of Psalm 77:6; he, too, found himself in a dark, empty place where God seemed distant. But as the darkness deepened, the volume of his song increased. He committed to singing in the middle of his long, dark night.

The same is true for us. The darker the night grows, the more we see God's light shining around us—if we're willing to look with the eyes of faith and trust.

That is a choice we have to make. Either we can collapse in our discouragement and give up on God as Elie Wiesel did, or we can praise Him in the midst of it, as did Corrie ten Boom. 

Are you experiencing darkness right now in your own life? Does God seem distant and the heavens made of brass? Let me encourage you to look farther ahead by faith . . . the faithful light of Christ is inviting you to take just one more step in His direction.

Every act of trust and every offering of praise are stubborn refusals to give in to the darkness; they are faith-filled decisions to walk in the light.

Stay the course . . . and don't forget to sing in the dark.

Prayer Point: Take time to ask God to help you remember that when the darkness comes, His light is ever present. Thank Him for the times when He led you out of the dark.

Extra Refreshment: Read again all of Psalms 23 to remember that the Good Shepherd is with us... even in the valley.


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