One of my most precious possessions is a little piece of paper cut in the shape of my dad.
I was 18 years old when I went on my very first mission trip to Africa; I had never been away from home for more than a week at a time. This was a big step. Some friends and family had filled an envelope with ‘pocket-sized’ paper versions of themselves and wrote messages on them. I was only to open the envelope whenever I felt homesick. This was what was written on my pocket-sized dad:
‘’Dear Anna, whenever you are having a difficult day, think of the fact that after darkness the light has always come. Love, dad.’’
I could not know then that four years later my father would pass away and this sentence would become reality, as well as something to hold on to when hope seemed far away. It really did seem far away at times, but I have learned that it is never completely gone. Hope often seems out of reach but it is always there, even if you don’t see it.
The sun coming up each day, the promise of new light every morning is something to hold on to. Sometimes your darkness will only last one night and it is easy to find hope the next day; other times your darkness can last for years even though you witness the sunrise each morning. It is easy to say this if you are not currently in the middle of your darkness. Having perspective, having hope in the middle of it all, is not something that comes easily. Do I have the answer to this all? No, I wish. I only know what I have learned, and that is that God is faithful. Even if you don’t feel it or see it.. or even know it. Even if you feel an uncontrollable distance away from Him, He is there and He is faithful.
Is there always a reason for the darkness? I am not someone to say that everything happens for a reason. I think that we live in a broken world and sometimes things happen just because of that, and that sucks. I do believe, however, that God makes beautiful things out of our dark days if we let Him, even without the understanding of why it happened in the first place.
I don’t know why my father had to suffer as he did and I don’t know why I couldn’t find God through it all at the time. All I know now is that eventually, my morning came again, there was light again and I am beginning to see that it might have been there all along. God makes good things from our mess, He is good, He is faithful and He is patient.
Often it will take a while for us to realise this, but start looking back at your own darkness now, even if you’re currently in it. My prayer for you will be that the next time you can’t find your way in the dark, you will think back of a time where you started seeing the light again. Remember that it cannot and will not stay dark forever. Take courage. The light is coming.
‘’The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.’’ Romans 13:12
Anna Van Winden
Anna joined our staff team in January 2017 and is very passionate about working on the ship/ helping with health care in Papua New Guinea. She loves seeing people from all over the world come together to volunteer on the ship. Anna enjoys baking, good coffee and early mornings!