Darkness can seem powerful. When you walk through a dark room, it is as if inanimate objects take on a life of their own, and jump out in such a way as to cause you to stub your toe. Our minds play tricks on us. We think that some horrific creature is going to attack us.
We associate darkness with evil, and for good reasons: a lot of violent crime takes place under cover of darkness. Satan is known as the prince of darkness. When we close our eyes, we see only darkness, knowing that there is a remote possibility that we will never open our eyes again. Literature, even the Bible, practically equates darkness with evil.
But the funny thing about this terrible, awful darkness is that it can be dispelled very quickly. A lot of darkness can be dispelled by a little bit of light.
“Better to light a candle than curse the darkness”, said the founder of Amnesty International, quoting a Chinese proverb. “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle”, said St. Francis of Assisi.
People light candles at all sorts of events for various reasons, but almost all of them have this in common: hope. Where there is light, there is hope. Where there is light, we know that things are getting better.
So it is for us: the apostle Paul told the church in Ephesus nearly 2000 years ago, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (Eph 5.8a, NIV). When we are light, we are getting better.