Daily Bread January 13

The Darkest Hour Is When Blessing Comes
Steve Bolie of Clive, IA, USA

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:14-16

There is irony in Exodus 17:4-6 (NRSV). Moses is about to be stoned by his frustrated and thirsty followers, and the Lord said to Moses, “Take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” The divine solution involves stone-the rock at Horeb. Just when things are the bleakest, prayers (and complaints) are answered in a surprising way.

My heart has a tendency to go into atrial fibrillation; the condition isn’t life-threatening, but blood clots can form and potentially cause a stroke. In the early days I went to the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital for treatment with medication. One of those times, I awoke in the morning down and disheartened. “I’m still in afib,” I fretted, “and they will want to do an electrical shock treatment.” I slipped through disappointment to sadness and to mild depression. The clock in front of my bed said 7:25. At 7:30 the nurse came in. “Good news!” she said. “Your heart converted to regular rhythm just five minutes ago. You’ll be going home today.” I learned that morning that sometimes God’s blessings come at the darkest times. When the present is darkest, prayer is answered, and a blessing is given.

Another example involves the congregation we attend. Several times over the years, an active and gifted family has, for one reason or another, left the congregation to take other opportunities. We have asked ourselves, “What will we do now? How can we replace them?” Just as often a new family has moved in and blessed the congregation with their giftedness. When an irreplaceable person or family is leaving, instead of wondering what we will do, we should run to the door to see what new family is driving into the parking lot. This has happened enough times to be a pattern. We have learned that when the present is darkest, prayer is answered, and a blessing is given.

What a promise and a blessing. It should be a line in a song: “The darkest hour is just before dawn,” for example. The 1960s group, the Mamas and the Papas, could sing it. It would probably be a hit. (Oh wait, they already did-and it was.)

Prayer Phrase

“Light dawns on a weary world.” CCS 240

Spiritual Practice

The Light of God

Epiphany invites us to focus on the light of God. Close your eyes and draw your attention to your breath. As you breathe gently in and out, reflect on the statement, “The light of God is in all things.” The light has a bright, soft beauty and radiates God’s healing love. The light of God reaches you and permeates you with a deep sense of peace. Rest in the light as it surrounds and fills you. Thank God that you live in God’s light and it lives in you.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

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