Since there isn’t a lot to do in these days of COVID, my husband Daniel and I went for a walk Sunday. We walked up and down one of Minneapolis’ many parkways. We were walking back towards our car and past a number of houses on the parkway. Maybe a block or two from our car, we saw someone- probably a child- wrote in chalk on the sidewalk. The writings were all positive sayings that really spoke to the times. One of them seemed bold in saying “brighter days ahead.”
It was an interesting saying to make at this time. All around us, it feels like brighter days are never coming again. All around us, we hear people getting sick and people dying and dying and dying. We have no idea when this crisis will end. We have no idea how long we have to keep our distance from each other. We don’t know when the virus will dissipate. In my own life, I had just heard a few hours prior of the surprising death of young colleague in Oregon, who died of a heart attack. It didn’t feel like brighter days ahead.
I think about trips to the grocery store or Target and seeing the bare shelves. People are taking toilet paper, eggs, and bread because they don’t know if there will be a time when they can’t leave their houses. The people don’t think there are brighter days ahead, those empty shelves are a sign of fear.
When I was in college, my church group would sing a song that began, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” I didn’t know it then, but the phrase was from Lamentations 3:21-23. Lamentations is an interesting book because it is written after a devastating event. The writer searches for God in the midst of the chaos and they move from utter helplessness to a sense of hope. Things are still horrible, but they have hope. They trust God is faithful and never gives up. They believe even though the environment around them is bleak.
Daniel showed me a performance of the St. Olaf Choir in Norway. They sang a song by Kim André Arnesen called “Even When He is Silent.” The text was found at a concentration camp after World War II:
I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining. I believe in love, even when I feel it not. I believe in God, even when He is silent.
Someone who very well may have faced death at a concentration camp still believed in God even though life would tell you God isn’t there. That’s hope.
I think that is what we have to have these days. Brighter days ahead is not a nicety to make us feel better when life is crappy. It is lighting a candle in the darkness, believing that whatever evil seems ascendant and in control will not ever have the last word.
We believe in life even when there is death all around. Because we believe that in Christ there are brighter days ahead.
So is brighter days ahead just a nice trope to