Please don’t take this the wrong way, but in many ways it seems this latest surge in COVID-19 omicron is a lot like a really bad flu bug. I know it has been a lot worse than that for a lot of people, and I feel very fortunate to have not contracted the disease (yet), but when I think about how sick I have gotten in the past with the flu, I find that I sympathize greatly with those who have indeed contracted this viral infection.
One time – the worst time I can ever recall – occurred many years ago. It remains a very vivid memory in the annals of my mind. My bride and I were both afflicted at the same time with what we later determined was not the flu at all, but rather a very severe case of food poisoning. We were both challenged with high fevers and “achy breaky” bodies all over. But the biggest challenge of all during that time was our competition with each other over which one of us got to hug the porcelain bowl in our bathroom the most.
Right in the middle of our bowl-hugging ventures, my wife happened to relate to me how very similar this was to being pregnant. Being the typical male, I made some crass statement about preferring to die rather than going through this excruciating experience.
Those days, and yes, I remember them well, were what I would call very dark days in my life. Ever had any of those? Oh, they may not be related to your digestive tract, but have you ever experienced times when you just thought the pain would never end? Have you ever felt like there just seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel, or else that the only light at the end of the tunnel was a locomotive heading straight at you with no way of escape? Those are dark times.
I was reminded of this when I read about a growing trend that has had its rising interest all across Europe: sightless restaurants. I mean they really are dark times. These restaurants, devoid of light, are being patronized by an increasing number of people who are choosing to dine as blind people. John Bohannon of The Christian Science Monitor experienced this firsthand. He talked about plunging into the inky blackness of a restaurant in Germany. To get to his table, he had to place his hand on the shoulder of the waiter, then allow his dining partner to put her hand on his shoulder. In single file, they carefully maneuvered to their chairs, with the waiter as their guide. Like most of the waiters in the restaurant, theirs was blind, so he needed no light to help him through the darkness.
Bohannon could not see even his hand just inches in front of his face. He discovered that his fears increased, probably more than they normally would have, when a glass crashed to the floor from a nearby table. The dining room itself was totally devoid of any light whatsoever, but if one has the need, someone from the staff must lead the customer to a candlelit bathroom. Bohannon described his uneasiness as building to the point where he wanted to go to the bathroom just for the privilege of seeing something again.
When the waiter arrived with the food, he discovered the new sensation of trying to eat food with a fork he could not see. At the end of the whole evening, the waiter guided Bohannon and his guest back out of the restaurant and into the light. Now those were really dark times.
I tell you, no matter what, when dark times hit the tendency is to give in and let them triumph over you. We may not always have a choice about those times, as did John Bohannon, but we do have a choice about how we handle them. We can give in to them and fully experience their downs and ups, but in that case, when we choose to live in darkness over light, the best thing we could say about those times is that our best guide is blind.
Or we can contend with them. We can determine that no matter how low the lows go, we will not allow the darkness to overtake us. And we do that by clinging to the Light. Of Jesus, it is said that “the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it” (John 1:4-5). The author to the Hebrews says it this way: “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of the faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
The point is that no matter what trial, no matter what sort of sickness, even COVID, no matter what sort of financial difficulty, no matter what sort of emotional or spiritual battle you are facing, the only Light that will show you the way through the struggle or the complexity that is life is Jesus. He will get you through the dark times.
So when you see that light coming at you in that long dark tunnel of life, don’t necessarily assume that it is a locomotive. It may simply be the Light of the World, coming to show you the way out. Rather than turn away from Him, hitch a ride with Him and watch Him work for you.
No matter what virus we are facing, the darkness of the tunnel will fade in comparison as you and I turn to the Light.
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor who now resides in Florida. He can be reached at [email protected]