As the end of May approaches, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter! This past school year represents one long, dark tunnel for educators. Many have felt like passengers on a runaway train, holding on tightly as unexpected twists and turns emerged throughout the year. The pandemic forced us all into survival mode. At one point there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel, which makes navigating the journey strenuous and difficult. However, here we all are! We’ve made it (or almost made it) to the end of the school year. While we may be a bit worse for wear, we survived. There is light at the end of the tunnel!
I have been reading in Hebrews this past month. The Jewish Christians were struggling. They had successfully endured hardships because of their faith (10:32-34), but they were on a downward spiral (2:1, 3:12, 5:11). The weight of their circumstances caused them to focus on the darkness, and they lost sight of the light. During times of difficulty, we all need to be reminded there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the darkness, we should hold onto hope.
So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. Hebrews 6:18-19a
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:23
I was recently listening to an interview of Ruth Bell Graham. When asked about hardships, she responded, “Looking back on my life, I thank God especially for the tough times. That is when the Bible comes to life for you, and that’s when the person of Jesus becomes most real to you. Seriously, I look back and I’m most grateful for the tough times rather than the easy ones.”
As I think about her words, I have no doubt about her sincerity. Her faith and hope were secure as she kept her eyes on Jesus (the light at the end of the tunnel) when darkness engulfed her. Did you also happen to notice the underlying message of how we can all look back on the hard times with gratitude? That hidden jewel is reflected in two of her comments.
“The Bible comes to life for you.”
“The person of Jesus is most real to you.”
Graham’s words drew me back to Hebrews and the struggling Christians. Apparently, they weren’t maturing spiritually (Hebrews 6). They were holding onto the basic truths of their salvation, but God’s Word was not shining a light on their circumstances. In other words, they had become spiritually dull and indifferent. The Bible was not coming to life for them; as a result, they were at risk of developing hardened and rebellious hearts.
I hope during this past year, you have felt drawn to God’s Word. I know I have. As difficult as the past year has been, I have found such peace and comfort as I have read and mediated on the Scriptures. Here are just a few verses that have been encouraging to me.
Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. Psalm 55:22
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. I Peter 5:7
We can look back on hard times with gratitude when we choose to spend time with God in His Word. I truly believe it is also during these times that the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us in a very real and personal way. However, like the Jewish Christians in Hebrews, this doesn’t happen without our involvement. After listing examples of fallible yet faithful believers in Chapter 11, the early Christians were encouraged to …strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1b-2.
Keeping our eyes on Jesus in this passage means much more than it says in our English translation. In the Greek there is an implication of not only focusing on Jesus but also looking away from everything else. During challenging moments we shouldn’t look at others, our sin, or our circumstances. Rather, we should keep our eyes on Jesus. When we do so, He promises to walk beside us as we persevere through our Christian journey.
I hope you can look back over this past year with gratitude for the presence of Jesus in your life. I pray He has been real and present. If you have fallen short this past year and have not grown closer to the Lord, I want to encourage you. It is never too late. Jesus loves you and wants nothing more than to delight in you with gladness, calm your fears with His love, and rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)!
He is the light at the end of our tunnel, and His light never goes out.