This article is part of a monthly series – Et Lux in Tenebris Lucet.
Some time ago, I was searching for a book. I could have easily found it on Amazon and ordered it within seconds, but I felt that this book needed to be more personal than that -it needed to be used. One day the local used bookstore was going out of business. They had never had the book before when I had checked, but I felt I should drop in. To my great delight, it was there.
The book is “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. In it, he writes about his experiences as a prisoner in a concentration camp during the Holocaust and how he found meaning in his suffering. This has been a very powerful and influential book for me as I have used its concepts to interpret meaning from various trials in my life. In one particularly poignant passage, Frankl describes working in the prison crew digging trenches in the cold early morning:
“In a last violent protest against the hopelessness of imminent death, I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious “Yes” in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose. At that moment a light was lit in a distant farmhouse, which stood on the horizon as if painted there, in the midst of the miserable grey of a dawning morning in Bavaria. Et lux in tenebris lucet—and the light shineth in darkness” (Man’s Search for Meaning, pp.40-41).
And the light shineth in darkness is a passage from John 1:5. To me, it refers to the light of Christ—the light that brings us out of our worst moments, reminds us of God’s love, shows us the way, increases our knowledge, emanates goodness, gives us hope, and many other meaningful purposes. Though we may not see literal lights on a hill as Frankl did to symbolize the spiritual light he received, we all experience the light of Christ. We are all surrounded by darkness at various points, but a light always shines in darkness. Christ always shines in the darkness of our lives.
There are so many ordinary things that can be a light to us. I like to think of them as reminders of the light of Christ, his presence manifest in our lives. Sometimes they are sparkling chandeliers, or sometimes delicate fireflies illuminating the path of life. And for me, it seems they can come just when most needed, or unexpectedly as a tender mercy and reminder of God’s love.
It’s interesting to me that in the English language, light figuratively represents many different concepts—knowledge, understanding, hope, love, life, goodness, etc. I hope I can share with you things that have reminded me of Christ’s light in its many forms. I’d love to hear about your moments of light as well.
Et lux in tenebris lucet.
Frankl, Victor. (2006). Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston: Beacon Press.