His Presence in Darkness
December 21, 2021
“…I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19, ESV).
My patient was in her 80s and medically stable, but her countenance troubled me. Upon checking in on her again, she burst into tears, confessing she was terrified to die. Her daughter sat at her bedside and tried reassuring her mother. I asked them if I could pray with them, and they agreed. I praised God for the Physician of physicians and proclaimed the gospel in prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. My patient didn’t have a church home and asked me to call the chaplain so she could also speak with him. Before I left, I gave her a wooden cross a professor had given me and told her to pray when the fear and darkness crept back because, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, ESV). The next day during rounds, the attending, the intern and myself—a medical student—saw the patient together. As the attending wrapped up the medical conversation, the patient’s daughter thanked me for praying with them the day before and exclaimed, “Guess who got baptized yesterday!” I looked at my patient; she was beaming. I praised Jesus and gave her a hug, welcoming a new sister into the family. Looking back on that moment, I marvel at God’s work: He proclaimed Himself through a redeemed sinner, in the darkness, amid many witnesses. “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3, ESV).
The darkness is palpable and oppressive. It creeps in through the cracks of the doors, billows into the rooms and seeks to fill and devour all space—suffocating the perishing.
In C.S. Lewis’ novel Perelandra, Ransom watches through immense discomfort and disgust as Satan lures Tinidril to reject Christ. In a panic, Ransom cries out asking how God could let this happen, questions God’s whereabouts and laments His absence. The Lord answers Ransom with the realization that Christ’s presence in the darkness is Christ through Ransom.
Christ enabled Ransom to fight Satan and push back against the darkness both spiritually and physically, and Christ saved Tinidril just as Christ saved my patient. This is a spiritual war in which we’re engaged, and Christ equips those He has called with everything we need to fight each battle. Some days it will feel as if we’ve lost ground, haven’t gained enough ground, didn’t say enough or said too much. In truth, we are poor judges of the objective reality and stage of the war because we cannot see the entire picture. Focus on the work the Lord has set before your hands this day, faithfully pursue Him in every circumstance and leave the outcome and glory to Him.
Loren Ray Flageolle, OMS-III
M.S. Human/Functional Nutrition
Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine
Great God in Heaven,
Grant me mercy this day to pursue holiness, proclaim Your name through darkness and make disciples of many nations—to Your honor and glory alone.
In Jesus’ holy name,