Have you ever been awakened from sleep by a bright light? It hurts! Eyes that have adjusted to the darkness squint in pain in the presence of sudden light. In the dark, our pupils become dilated; when a bright line shines into them, the pupillary reflex causes them to constrict to protect the retina. The sudden flip of a light switch leaves the victim squinting in pain until his pupils sufficiently contract.
When our eyes are adjusted to darkness, light can actually make it harder to see. A flashlight, which can help you see in the darkness, when pointed at your eyes, may actually prevent you from seeing anything else.
I believe that a similar problem confronts individuals who are walking in spiritual darkness when they try to understand God. The brightness of God’s glory, the totality of his justice, and the breadth of his grace are not visible to those unaccustomed to looking at His light. Because they are used to walking around in darkness, they cannot imagine that there are whole worlds of understanding and answers that are only visible in the light.
When a person becomes a Christian, he or she has to get used to seeing by God’s light. It may feel more comfortable to fumble in the darkness as one has always done, for the light is painful. But if the fledgling believer perseveres, he will find that there is more to see in the light than he ever imagined. As Paul wrote: “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8).
At times, we may feel as though God is hiding Himself from our sight. The psalmist wondered the very same thing: “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1). In such times, it is worth considering that our vision may be too weak to perceive God, since the light of His glory blinds us. Our inability to see and understand the ways of God is no evidence of his absence; our inability to look directly at the sun doesn’t negate the fact that it is there, sustaining everything that lives.
In writing to Timothy, Paul described God as one “who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). Perhaps Paul was thinking of his first encounter with Jesus, which left him literally blinded by God’s light. Though the Light may at first seem overwhelming, as we choose to stay close, our spiritual eyes will adjust, and we’ll be amazed at what we see.
Your friend in faith,