“Treasures of Darkness” illustration by Gary Gaede

Advent Day 22 – Sunday, December 23

“I believe, dear Lord; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 (Luther Bible)

It is a human phenomenon that we are prejudiced against darkness. We are seeing beings by design and when sight is taken away or compromised by an absence of light, all manner of feelings well up within us and fear easily tightens its grip on us.

In these moments, the gift of faith can rescue us and open the door to recognizing that darkness is not necessarily something to fear. Dietrich Bonhoeffer shared this very thought when preaching at Confirmation in Kieckow in 1938:

“Your faith will be tested through sorrow. You do not yet know much about this. But God sends sorrow to us children when we need it the most, when we become too overly sure on this earth. Then a great pain, a difficult renunciation, a great loss, sickness, death, enters our life. Our unbelief rears up. Why does God demand this of me? Why has God allowed this to happen? Why, yes, why? That is the great question of unbelief that wants to suffocate our faith. No one can avoid this calamity. Everything is so perplexing, so dark. In this hour of being forsaken by God, we may and shall say: I believe, dear Lord, help my unbelief. Yes, dear Lord, also in the dark, also when in doubt, also in the state of being forsaken by God. Dear Lord, you still are my dear Father who makes all things work for my benefit. Dear Lord Jesus Christ, you yourself have cried out: My God, why have you forsaken me? You wanted to be where I am. Now you are with me. Now I know that you won’t leave me, even in the hour of my need. I believe, dear Lord, help my unbelief.” The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, p. 205

O God, when darkness falls and fear consumes me, quiet my soul, still my breathing, and strengthen my faith in you and your promised presence. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

—Pr. Randy Gehring