Don’t doubt in the dark what God taught you in the light.
MARCH 23, 2023
Don’t doubt in the dark what God taught you in the light. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown and this is Key Life. We are dedicated to the teaching that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them, anyway. Steve is an author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. If you were listening yesterday, I taught you, I told you about Jack Miller and Michael Graham’s biography of his life and the story about the time Jack’s pastor visited him when Jack was dying. And how they laughed and brought joy into a cancer ward. Laughter in a cancer ward? What’s with that? Someone has said that we should never doubt in the dark what God has taught us in the light. Now that’s true, by the way, I have a friend who said he agreed with that, but he also knew that you should never doubt in the light what God taught you in the dark, but that’s another book. It is true that you shouldn’t doubt what God taught you in the light when you’re going through the dark. No matter the reason for your lament, there is a realization that certain things are true and they are anchors in the dark. The question is addressed to God. Are you still there? The answer is always the same, in every place, no matter what is happening, it’s the message that God gave to Moses and Moses to Joshua, and repeated in Hebrews 13:5.
“Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has shown to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you our forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Deuteronomy 31:7 through 8. At the heart of Lament is the fact that God is there and has walked with you into the dark. A number of years ago, we interviewed a man who was in the first stages of Alzheimer’s. His memorable comment was, I’m beginning to miss you. As he faced his Alzheimer’s, it was an awful time. During the program, he described the panic and the fear he was first feeling when he was given his diagnosis. He said that Jesus said to him, child, as you walk into the mist, I will go with you. Even in the darkest lament of the Psalms, those Psalms are directed to God. Why is that? Because he is there. He is present. The opening words of the 130th the Psalm reflect the reality and presence of God.
O, out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord.
Why do that? Because God is always present in the depths. When the Psalmist Christians cry out affirming God’s presence.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there, your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
Psalm 139. I have a friend, Richard Shankweiler, who is now in heaven, and I miss him a lot. As I get older, I go to a lot of funerals and I speak at a lot of them of people that I love and that I’m going to miss. I did that at Richard’s graduation service too, and I almost couldn’t get through it. Richard was an attorney and then a judge in Florida. I met him back when we both went to a graduate seminary in Boston. Both of us, for the wrong reasons, after seminary, Richard went back into law and I became a pastor. Both of us came to Christ later, Richard, years later than I did. And in those between years, I prayed for Richard daily. I remembered a lunch with him, where I tried to tell him how Jesus had found me, but I didn’t have the words or the arguments that were adequate. He’d been to seminary, already knew what I was going to say before I said it. I, that was a sad lunch. I remember both of us being so sad because he couldn’t buy my faith and I didn’t know how to show him. Over the years when I was speaking somewhere, Richard would show. Sometimes we exchanged notes and at other times he would make fun of my Jesus obsession. When I was a pastor, I remember the Sunday when a young woman who was a flight attendant came up to me after the service. She said to me, Steve, I was on a flight the other day. And I met an old friend of yours. And I said, really? Who was that? He said his name was Shankweiler. And I said to her, did he hit on you? And she said, oh no, he was really nice and he gave me a message to give to you and made me repeat it twice to make sure that I got it right. And I winced and thought, oh my, and I said to her, okay, what was the message? And she said, he told me to tell you “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.” My flight attendant, didn’t understand my tears. And even telling you that story right now makes me a little weepy. So, I’ve got to think of somebody I don’t like to keep from crying on this broadcast cause everybody knows real men don’t cry. As I said, I miss Richard. I miss his amazing intellect, his often profound observations about life, his honesty and his friendship. But what I really miss about Richard is the laughter that was almost always present when he was around. It wasn’t just the jokes Richard told, even though they were always funny. It was his exuberant and joyful consuming of life. When I was around him, I almost always felt better and found myself laughing. Now, listen to me, it’s the same with Jesus. It’s the gift of his companionship, his presence, and the darkness. He tastes the salt of my tears, but there is more than that. There is a perspective and a calm joy there too. It is the surprise of the darkness of lament. It is also the truth. He said, I am the truth in John 14:6. And the truths he spoke. I’ve told you the truth, John 8:40. Both his presence and what he taught are sources of joy in the darkness. In John 15:11, Jesus said.
That he had spoken truth to his disciples so that the joy that was in him might dwell fully in them.
I love that statement, when Jesus says, I am the truth. That’s amazing, that means that wherever the truth is spoken, Jesus is present. If you’re a mother or a father, when you speak the truth about history, about politics, about God, about school, about marriage, about anything because Jesus is the truth, he is present in what you say to your kids. And when you speak truth, even when it’s hard truth, when you make your witness of truth in a place where people don’t want to hear it, Jesus is present. When you think truth, when in your mind you remember what you were taught in the light, when you remember that you’re forgiven, that you are loved and that you’ll get home before the dark. When your mind lifts up the thoughts of the truth that has been taught and learned and applied in your life. Jesus is there because He’s the truth. And you know what? When he comes, he brings the laughter. Laughter is his gift. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. And with that, we wrap up another fascinating week of exploring the Biblical foundations of Steve’s latest book, Laughter and Lament. Once again, to pick up a copy of said book, just stop by key life.org that’s also where you can replay past episodes of Key Life and all of our other shows as well. And of course, hope you’ll join us tomorrow for Friday Q&A, the time each week when Steve and our good friend Pete Alwinson answer the challenging questions you’ve sent in. Hey, pop quiz, orthodoxy is: A boring, B helpful, or C thrilling? Well, according to author Trevin Wax, the answer is C thrilling. That’s the case he makes in his new book called The Thrill of Orthodoxy. We recently spoke to Trevin on Steve Brown Etc. He argues that not only is orthodoxy thrilling, but that heresy is downright boring. I’m telling you, just good stuff. So, check it out for yourself by calling us now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. Give us your address and we’ll send you that show on CD, for free. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD or to mail your request go to keylife.org/contact. Finally, would you support Key Life through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or simply pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950 and then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.