Back in the fall of my senior year of high school (in 2010—how long ago that seems!), I attended a Teens Encounter Christ retreat weekend. During the weekend, I heard many songs, stories, and Bible verses; some did not stick with me, but others clung to me whether or not I was aware of it at the time. One such song is “Before the Morning,” by Josh Wilson.
Good song and all that, though I prefer my Christian music to have more of a rock, pop, or rap edge. But a nice song. And I didn’t really think much of it. Until—less than a month after the retreat—one of my classmates died. And then God kept throwing that song in my heart. In the nearly two years since I first heard it, God keeps doing the same thing, over and over. Time after time, during difficult moments, God would (and still does) shout out this song in my heart, mind, the radio, through a friend, etc. The more I listened to it, the more I noticed how courageous a song it is. It presents us with a challenge:
“Would you dare/would you dare to believe/That you still have a reason to sing/’cause the pain you’ve been feeling/Can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.”
Whenever we go through periods of darkness, we know that we have to persevere; we must hope and trust in God and hold onto Him. But this realization does not make perseverance easier. Even if you know that the morning will come—that the struggles will be overcome, that joy will flood your life—getting through everything is not simply a piece of cake. Especially with our society, culture, and government being so pro-death (both to the body and soul), it can be easy and secure to despair. To lose God’s joy. To say “well God, I trust that you’ll take care of this, but things are pretty messed up right now and I’m just going to mope in my corner.” But to hope, we must have courage! To hold onto God’s love and joy, to see how He works during the times of darkness, and brings good out of them.
To open your eyes to the fireflies.
Yes, the fireflies. I’ve never thought about them much; I mean, my childhood 4-H club was named after the bright little critters, and I always enjoy chasing after them in the summertime, but I’ve never really thought about them. And quite honestly, I don’t know much about their makeup or anything scientific (I suppose I could research it, though I’m very busy with the history of Hershey chocolate currently). But, a couple weeks ago, when chasing fireflies with my siblings, I sat on the grass, and really thought about them. It was dark. And sometimes, it didn't look like there was anything bright. A firefly would land on you, but stay dark.
And then an unexpected firefly would light up for a time. And then go dark. Right after you chased down a firefly, it would flee from your fingers. Some of the fireflies sat on blades of grass. Others were hidden.
|Grass concealing the firefly.|
But regardless of where they were, the fireflies were present in the darkness. They brought light into the dimness of the evening. And even though my siblings and I couldn’t always catch them, we kept chasing after the fireflies in hopes of snagging that little bit of glow inside of our cupped hands.
In times of darkness—even if we know that God will triumph and shine through—it can be hard to trust Him joyfully and hope. Even the greatest of saints experienced dark times. But in these dark times, we cannot despair. No, we must cling to God’s joyful, loving works in everything that happens.
We must chase after those fireflies.
As G.K. Chesterton said,
“Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all,”
“Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate.”