I light the “Hope” or “Prophecy” Candle, and he reads from Isaiah 9.

And we come to darkness. People groping their way through it. People dwelling under a great death shadow. Already in verse 2.

And yet…

Light flashes into the shadowlands.IMG_6742

“The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.”

Later, gathered for worship, we’re looking at Psalm 112.

Darkness sweeps in again—in verse 4. The “upright” are enduring it here.

But again the light dawns:

“Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness…”

The upright can see it, stark against black.


I think of Ebenezer. That round rock I wrote about last week that reminds us of how “the LORD has helped us this far.”


We’d moved that rock into the house for Thanksgiving Day, first to the cellar stairs to thaw and remove the clinging dirt and wash the thing clean, then to the dining room, to place on that old mat amid fake grass. After dinner he read 1 Samuel 7, and we talked about remembering the times of God’s help and a rock of remembrance as memory booster. And those who made it to dinner through stormy weather chose Ebenezer stones to take home and be reminded, too (although the youngest named hers “Erik.”)


Then I think how, before that Thanks day, reading this year’s journals to ferret out my personal  remembrances of His help, what I’d discovered was…

Darkness. Tears. Perplexity. Sorrowful disappointment. Here. There. Short and passing black nights of it, and long stretches requiring brave walking through.

And it was in those dark places that the working of God glowed obvious.

It occurred to me this has been the pattern through my life. It was in times of sadness or hardness, of uncertainty or (especially) utter helplessness, that I saw “the light,” saw the God of all good gifts clearly at work.


When I lit that candle of Hope, he asked me to turn down the other, the artificial, lights. The candle’s glow just didn’t show in all that incandescence. But with all the other light dimmed down, its flicker flamed dramatic.

So. Here’s cause for thanking God not only for His gift of light, but also for the times of darkness that make us notice it, when otherwise we might pass by, entirely unaware.

“Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness” -Psalm 112:4


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22 thoughts on “What Gives Hope? Promises and Darkness Past

  1. He is so Faithful, isn’t He! Such beautiful remembrances, Sylvia! Thank you for all the connections here! It’s easy to forget how interwoven hope, gratitude, faithfulness, and remembrance can be. Thank you for sharing!

    1. He surely is, Mary! Only sometimes we don’t notice it. In long stretches of bright and carefree days, we can too easily take all the good stuff for granted. Yep, “darkness defines the light.” Hope you had a light-filled Thanksgiving!

  2. Hi Sylvia
    I cannot agree more. Going through trials and tribulations are a guarantee when we follow Jesus for that is the way our Pappa shows us that we are His children. It is His way of disciplining us for our growth in our faith. It is during these times that our roots grow deep into the Life of Jesus and we learn to draw from the fountain of His grace from the one moment to the next!
    Blessings XX

    1. A review of my life surely confirms the truth in your comment, Mia. And from what I know of yours I believe you’d say the same. At the time we might not always “get” it, might even think we’re falling back instead of progressing, but later we can see how He was surely watering and growing us, and how the trials were a needful part of the process. Pappa training and strengthening His children, yes! Blessings to you, sister!

    1. Thank you, Janis, I must remember the next Sunday Stillness linkup. It’s a little late for this week and I’m slogging around with a bad cold (or something) and am playing it low key. Hope to see you there next week! In the meantime, God bless!

  3. Absolutely lovely, Sylvia… What a beautiful (and true!) illustration that reminds us of God’s glowing glory. So encouraged.

    Glad I found you at the “True Story” link-up. Be blessed!

  4. “Here’s cause for thanking God not only for His gift of light, but also for the times of darkness that make us notice it, when otherwise we might pass by, entirely unaware.”

    Oh I wonder how often I’ve passed right by the light of God. Great post, friend! Thanks for linking up for Testimony Tuesday!

    1. Yep, Holly, I think I pass by and miss so much, too—mostly when all is light and bright and things are going smoothly. Seems we need the dark bits to keep us aware and grateful. Thanks for providing the link up.

  5. Absolutely love the Ebeneezer rock and really can relate to what you said about the light shining most beautifully when its glow is showcased by the surrounding darkness. To be surrounded by darkness and then to see a glimmer of light…. that is an amazing feeling, so full of hope and happiness. I wrote about that today myself. Light in the midst of a storm. Thanks for sharing this post today, it was an encouragement to me!
    Heart Hugs, Shelly <3

    1. It is, Shelly. That glimmer can thrill and fill the soul. And another “God-incidence” in our writing!

  6. Hope and out of darkness comes the LIGHT. This is so lovely! Our Pastor called our candle Expectation, and our antipication of the future. That is certainly our blessed HOPE.

      1. And thank you, Hazel, for faithfully providing that link up. I haven’t lately had a true story to blog, but when I do, it’s nice to have your link by which to share it.

    1. Expectation as the candle’s name, I like that, Hazel. Better than hope today because we think of hope as such a nebulous, uncertain thing, while our living hope is one that will not disappoint us. That’s more than maybe-hope. It is truly a reliable expectation. Hope to rejoice in!

  7. This reminded me of the wonderful book, “Spiritual Rhythm” by Mark Buchanan. He writes about the seasons of our faith and how winters (the hard times) can be times of unparalleled growth, but to be aware in summer (when everything is going along fine) not to be remiss in our interactions with our Creator because winter will come again.

    1. I must get my hands on some of that man’s writing. Quotes by him that I have come across have such deep, true, and valuable things to say.

  8. I’m a very [VERY] “Rocky” person… connected constantly to the Lord … and I’m also a very “Light” person. You really grabbed me this time. I could show you so many photos of just those things that I use on my blog. But this was a treat, just “seeing” your info and “heart-fo”. A treat.

  9. Hi Sylvia! What a beautiful reflection (no pun intended!) on light.
    I love candlelight in the dark. It really makes you concentrate on the hope and warmth of the light. I know that if I looked back at my year, I’d be so warmed by the times the Lord was there for me…maybe I felt too ‘in the dark’ to notice, but he was there.

    Good to be here today! May we all be ready to see his light,

    1. Hi Ceil,
      I missed this comment of yours last week, I don’t know how. Good to see you have been here, and to read your richly “reflective” words! 😉

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