You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
Psalm 18:28 (NIV)
The world watched in horror as news reports detailed a heinous, methodical shooting during Sunday services at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, TX. Later, frustrated national leaders rebuked their counterparts’ offers of “thoughts and prayers,” asking where God was when the deranged man injured 20 people and killed 26 more men, women and children as they themselves prayed.
This Thanksgiving, you might be asking the same question.
Where was God then, or when the latest terrorist attack happened, or … [fill in the blank]. And where is God now as you face the challenges in your life, whether they are related to faith, health, finances, family, job or a broken water pipe in the basement?
The simple answer is that God is with you.
Psalm 18:28 tells us that God turns the darkness that besieges His believers into light. He does that by giving us a lifetime of new understanding regarding His Word, the world around us and our role in it. Bible scholars have called this phenomenon illumination. It refers to a moment when the Holy Spirit helps us to better understand something about God and His ways.
That’s what happened to me when I saw news reports of that shooting. The Holy Spirit reminded me that the Bible doesn’t promise bad things won’t happen to good people, or even that evil won’t exist. It will always exist and was on full display during that shooting and in the arguments that followed. But the illumination God gave me that day was that God is still in control of the universe. I can trust that God will bring good from evil, and I can be thankful for that.
What is Illumination?
That’s when the Holy Spirit—the part of the Holy Trinity that dwells within believers—illuminates certain truths, insights and observations. It’s like shining a spotlight on something that might have been trying to get my attention forever, but I never noticed or didn’t need to notice until the illumination occurred.
These illuminations enrich my life. They are for “such a time as this,” whatever the time is when I need wisdom, understanding, a new way of thinking or simply comfort that I’m not alone in a struggle.
Illumination in Action
To illustrate another way that illumination by the Holy Spirit manifests, let me introduce you to Victor Cortez, the Food for the Hungry Senior Director of Global Leadership Development.
Victor offers decades of experience and technical understanding in the field of relief and development. He has memorized and taught the FH purpose and vision statements, which declare that we achieve our goals by working together with the people we help to end physical and spiritual poverty.
As Victor taught this concept to new staff recently, the Holy Spirit gave him an illumination. He said that he knew our “together” approach is the only sustainable way to bring our technical abilities to a community. He talked of the emptiness of doing “mission to” or “mission to do for” in our work. While he already knew the mutual benefit that comes from “going together,” “walking together” and “relating together,” that truth reached a new depth in his understanding as he stood before a new crop of FH staff.
That deeper level of understanding gave Victor a stronger sense of purpose. For that, he rejoiced.
This is the Thanksgiving message I want to bring our treasured Food for the Hungry family—worldwide staff, program participants, donors, sponsors and partners of all sorts:
When the evil one strikes, look upward rather than at the chaos in front of you. Find what truth the Holy Spirit is illuminating to honor YOU with a new level of understanding.
It won’t make the evil go away. It will give you the peace of knowing that God is with you and will get you through. You can rejoice and give thanks for that.
God wants to illuminate, give us insights and grant discernment of what is right and good. As we capture that, it leads us away from anxiety and despair. It fills us with hope and with a calm and a contentedness. For that, I would say we simply need to be thankful this day that God has given us.
Many times we learn how to say thank you for material blessings, but we need to make a habit of giving thanks for insights, depth of understanding and the illumination that God gives us as we move forward into the day to day unknowns.
I’d like to offer you some free tools Food for the Hungry has prepared to help you sense the illumination that Holy Spirit offers you, and to be confident you can give thanks even during these troubled times.
May You Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!
Find Him During the Busy Holiday Season
Advent 2017 begins on Sunday, December 3 and ends on Sunday, December 24.
Prepare Him Room is designed to help your family celebrate Advent in a way that takes Christmas beyond the lights and presents.
This free eBook is divided into four weekly themes with a Scripture verse, devotional and family activity to give you an opportunity to talk about:
HOPE: Reflecting on the Good News of Jesus Christ and learning to put others first
PEACE: Reflecting on the Angel’s visit to Mary and making a clay angel
JOY: Reflecting on God’s love for all people and making a typical treat from Guatemala
LOVE: Reflecting on the birth of Jesus and making a wreath
Then celebrate Christmas with a Scripture and devotional that focuses on Jesus, our LIGHT OF THE WORLD!
God wants to make you whole. This free Bible study can help you claim that promise. It will show you the four vital relationships God created for you. When those relationships aren’t working right, you miss out on the fulfillment He wants to give you!
This free ebook will help you discover how to claim God’s best for your life.