It has been a hard week of conflict for me and Chad. The hardest it has been. I don’t intend to divulge the what and how of our conflict. But as He faithfully does, God has “restored what the locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25) by redeeming the broken darkness of conflict with the wholeness of the light of truth.
One particularly hard evening, I sat on our bed having a pity party, and I saw the sign hanging upon our wall — a sign from our wedding with the words of Isaiah 41:20 on it: “The hand of the Lord has done this.” I figuratively rolled my eyes at the sign and thought, “Yeah, it sure is something His hand has done – bringing us here to this moment where we are so divided and tainted with sin.” I then thought to the vision we had for our marriage that we set forth at our wedding: to have our lanterns ready (Matthew 25); to be lights unto the world of Christ’s love for the collective church through our love for one another. Again, I sarcastically thought, “Some light. It’s not even the size of a match at this point.”
I cynically (and rather dramatically) thought we were naive for having these idyllic hopes and dreams for our marriage. In that emotions-driven moment, I failed to see my true naivety. I failed to see the deeper truths in those rose-tinted truths we set forth.
I was failing to see the fullness of Isaiah’s words. The hand of the Lord has indeed done this — He brought me to this very moment. His sovereignty and goodness did not just stop the moment I closed myself off in the bedroom. I can so quickly limit the character of God when I associate His goodness, His faithfulness, His sovereignty, His omniscience with my life feeling good and looking “Instagram worthy.” Just as He has ordained all the joy-filled times, He has equally ordained all the sorrowful times. Because He is uncaring? No. Because He is committed to working to redeem and make new: “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:16-17). Can I believe the hand of the Lord has done the hard too? And that it is equally as good as it renews us? In the words of Spurgeon, when I can’t trace God’s hand, can I trust His heart?
I was also failing to see the light still seeping through. Ephesians 5:8-14 calls us to “walk as children of the light,” but how do we walk when our frail, sinful humanity seems to be blocking our path and bringing darkness to our light? We rely on Christ, who is the light of the world (John 9:5), who is not overcome by darkness (John 1:5) because for Him “the darkness is as light” (Psalm 139:12). When His light mercifully shines in our darkness (maybe even using conflict to do so), conviction inevitably occurs, leading to confession and repentance where God promises to be “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:19). Like old lantern panes dirtied with soot, God wipes clean our panes so that our light, His light, might shine brightly once more. Our sin is no longer festering in the dark, “…when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible” (Eph. 5:13).
So friends, be encouraged if you feel divided and tainted by sin. The hand of the Lord has done this too, this very hard thing, but He is still faithful and He is still good. Through Christ’s defeat of darkness, He is now shining a light into the dark recesses of your heart, and in the Light there is safety, warmth, and peace. Light is dawning and darkness is fleeting, and He will bring this hard but good work to completion.