Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. – Isaiah 50:10
I have a coworker who is one of the sweetest people I know. To protect her anonymity and that of my employer, I will only her refer to by her first initial, “J,” ala the character from the Men In Black movie series. Every time I see J she greets me with a warm sincere smile, the kind of smile that experts, yes apparently there are such a thing as smile experts, referred to as a Duchenne smile. A Duchenne smile engages the muscles around both the mouth and the eyes, causing the eyes to squint just a bit.
Knowing some of J’s story, her smile is not the product of a life of idyllic circumstances. “Lady luck” has not always smiled favorably upon her. Her smile has its origin in knowing the Heavenly Father and His love for her. J reflects God’s love to everyone and apparently every plant she encounters. She has made it her personal mission in life to nurture and care for a poinsettia in our office. My employer placed poinsettias in our office last December to give the place a holiday feel. Most poinsettias I’ve ever seen meet the same fate as their yuletide kin, live Christmas trees, finding themselves on curbs or in dumpsters by early January. However there was one particular poinsettia in our office that received a reprieve from the compost pile courtesy of J. Over the course of months, J lovely cared for the poinsettia, watering it as needed, and pinching the dead or weak leaves. She gave the poinsettia personhood, naming it Priscilla and speaking tenderly to it. Under J’s care, Priscilla flourished growing to about three times in size from when she first found a home in our office.
Several weeks ago, J did something that on the surface appeared very strange. She covered up Priscilla with a dark trash bag. J explained her actions. In order to for the poinsettia to produce the brilliant red leaves we mistake for flowers, it must be exposed to 12 straight hours of darkness for five days in a row. In nature these conditions exist the week just before Christmas, accounting for the poinsettia’s popularity during that time of year. To simulate the required dark periods, J cloaked Priscilla in the darkness afforded by the trash bag. To ensure the cleaning staff did not mistake the hooded Priscilla for garbage and throw her out, J placed a sign on the bag that read, ‘do not remove, reblooming in process.”
Place yourself in the “roots” of Priscilla. Your benefactor, J, has rescued you from a fate of death and has lovingly cared for and nurtured you. You have grown under J’s care to the point that others have taken notice. Now suddenly and without warning, J has seemingly withdrawn her hand of care. Kind and tender words and the times of communion and sweet fellowship have been replaced with extended periods of silence and darkness. J has even placed a sign on you explaining her actions, but the writing on the sign is facing outwardly away from you. You cannot read it. For all Priscilla knows, the sign reads, “kick me” because that’s what you feels is happening to you. None of the sudden changes make sense to you, but it makes perfect sense to J. As bizarre as it might seem to you, J is actually expressing her love to you by exposing you to periods of prolonged darkness. The darkness is necessary to allow you to bloom in all your glory.
As Christians we our own benefactor named “J” – Jesus. He lovely and tenderly cares for us, but there are times he leaves us in periods of unexplainable darkness. As incomprehensible as it might seems while we in darkness, we must hold fast to the truth that God has not abandoned us, He still loves us dearly and His ordained darkness will ultimately result in our good and His glory. Let’s remember the words of Edith Edman, “never doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light.”