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Light in Dark Times

“My days have passed, my plans are shattered.
      Yet the desires of my heart
turn night into day;
       in the face of the darkness light is near
.” — Job 17:11–12

The book of Job really speaks to the brokenhearted. It’s a book that gives voice to the hurting, the lost, and those struggling to make sense of their lives in the context of a God-driven world. Two verses that underscore this pain read: “My days have passed, my plans are shattered. Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near.”

There are several ways to understand these verses. On one level, Job was simply expressing his feelings about having his dreams shattered. I once heard a woman who had gone through a tragedy in her life describe the experience this way: “It was like all of my dreams had been written on a blackboard, and then someone took an eraser and wiped them all away.”

Sometimes life can be like that. Sometimes all the plans we had for our life evaporate before us when we least expect it. The book of Job can be comforting in witnessing the way a man of God goes through similar circumstances and devastating emotions. We learn from Job that we are never alone in our grief. Many before us have gone through tragedies, and many are going through difficulties we don’t even know about right now.

But what does the rest of statement mean? What does it mean that night is turned into day? The Jewish sages explain that Job was so troubled by his circumstances that when he should have been peacefully asleep at night, he was awake as though it were day. His worries kept him wired and awake. The Jewish understanding of the original Hebrew fits this interpretation. In the original Hebrew, Job said, “In the face of darkness, the light is short.” In other words, the darkness overwhelmed his life to the extent that the time of light – the good times — felt extremely short in comparison.

However, just as changing our perspective in our lives can change our experience, so, too, can we shift our perspective of this verse slightly and obtain a new meaning.

We can understand that the dark times, the night of our lives, can be like daytime – like the good times — when we cling to the light of God. As Job wrote, “in the face of the darkness light is near.”

At any point in our life, all it takes is a shift in perspective to turn darkness into light. When we change our perspective, we can change our lives. We must find the good in all that happens to us. As we keep God’s Word close to our heart, we will always have a guiding light.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

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May 15, 2016
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