By Dr. Harold Sala
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. Luke 23:44
Back in the days when circuses went from town to town, a prominent circus featured an act with Bengal tigers, those beautiful beasts that look like overgrown felines, whose powerful claws are capable of shredding an enemy in a few swipes. As part of the tiger routine, a trainer would go into the cage with his whip and a small kitchen chair. The snap of his whip would prod the tigers into a routine which was perfunctory yet dangerous. Bengal tigers are ferocious, and natives who live where they roam in the wilds are always frightened of them. And with good cause.
On one occasion the trainer went into the cage, the door locked behind him, and started his routine. Then, unexpectedly and without warning, there was a power shortage, a black-out, and the lights went out. For approximately 30 seconds, says Tomas Butts in Tigers in the Dark, the trainer was locked in with the tigers.
When the lights came on, he finished his performance almost as though nothing unusual or unexpected had happened. Afterwards he was asked how he felt when he knew that in the dark the tigers could see him, but he couldn’t see them. They knew where he was, but he didn’t know where they were. He admitted that at first he was gripped with a chilling fear. Then he remembered that while he knew the tigers could see him, they didn’t know that he couldn’t see them. Score evened! And he continued snapping his whip and talking to them just as he would have done had the lights been on.
What an experience! There are times–perhaps not as dramatic but equally important–when the lights go out on you and you are left in the dark. It happens when the doctor mentions the big C word–you have cancer! Or you face an expected layoff, or a tragedy confronts you. The light of your life is dimmed, if not snuffed out.
That’s when you have no choice but to rely on what you know–not what you see. Like what? You know that God hasn’t singled you out as a target of His wrath, that storms confront everyone. You know God will honor the promises of His Word. You also know that while the lights may have gone out on you, they haven’t gone out on God. He sees the whole situation very clearly though you don’t. If you are His child, you also know that nothing that happens to you is beyond the sovereign care of your Heavenly Father.
On May 19, 1780, a dark mist settled down on the New England coast, blotting out the sun, forcing the Governor’s Council to light candles to see. Fearing the darkness, one senator made a motion to adjourn. But wise old Abraham Davenport rose to his feet and counseled otherwise.
“It is either the Day of Judgment,” he began “or it is not. If it is not, there is no need of adjourning. If it is, I desire to be found doing my duty. I move that candles be brought and that we proceed to business.”
That’s what the tiger trainer did when the lights went out. He kept on snapping his whip, talking to the animals as though nothing had happened.
An unknown poet put it, “Bring in the candles! Keep to the task!/ What more can judgment angels ask?/ Bring in the candles! Let us be found/ Doing our duty’s daily round.”
So when the lights go out, carry on, never running, never yielding to fear, doing what you know God wants you to do; and then in His time, the lights will come on again.
RESOURCE READING: Psalm 27.