“Treasures of Darkness” illustration by Gary Gaede

Advent Day 2 – Monday, December 3

“This is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad.” Psalm 118:24

This hopeful Bible verse was a constant on my parents’ refrigerator. Because it was always there, I often looked past it. However, I vividly recall how the words jumped out at me when we were gathered at their home, helping them prepare the details for my brother’s funeral.

It was hard to believe that Mike, the oldest of we four siblings, was dead, tragically taken from us in a car accident. After he had survived the war in Viet Nam, I think he—and maybe we—thought he was untouchable. But one night, driving home from work, he missed a curve in the road and died instantly. Our lives were changed forever.

In those days, weeks, and months following Mike’s death I observed my parents, who had survived many things in their lives—the Great Depression, deaths of parents and siblings, and the life of uncertainty as farmers dependent upon the weather for livelihood. In my eyes, they lived faithfully and with certainty that they were never alone. Because of that, they persevered and showed great strength, and we counted on them as our pillars when we were going through hard times.

After Mike died, I saw a vulnerability in them that frightened me. They were weak. Their energy sapped by grief. Even the things they had done without thought and effort were a chore. My siblings and I, although grown and gone from their home, were around more often and we found ourselves in a role-reversal, often taking the lead in providing support and encouragement.

A couple of months after Mike died, when visiting Mom and Dad, I was struck that
the verses from Psalms remained front and center on the refrigerator. Although we professed through all of this that we were “so grateful for our faith,” I don’t think we really meant it. We were mad. Sad. Betrayed. Why us? Because we lived faithfully this should not have happened to us!

I asked my mom how she could keep that verse up when we were suffering so. My mother said that this verse helped her survive many of those days when she was paralyzed by her grief. She recalled that she felt as though she turned into ice when they got the news of Mike’s death. But every hug, every prayer made her melt just a little. She talked about how often people suffer alone. And reminded me, how lucky we all were to have a community around us that were helping us heal. And that always, always we were enveloped by God and his love.

Even in the darkest of times, if we open ourselves up, there are treasures to receive and we can learn that, with God, we have strength to give and support when others are suffering.

“This is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad.”

—Anne Rieck McFarland