“It can’t beat us!” Pa said.
“Can’t it, Pa?” Laura asked stupidly.
“No,” said Pa. “It’s got to quit sometime and we don’t. It can’t lick us. We won’t give up.”
Then Laura felt a warmth inside her. It was very small but it was strong. It was steady, like a tiny light in the dark, and it burned very low but no winds could make it flicker because it would not give up.”
– Laura Ingalls Wilder, “The Long Winter”
Little did I know in February, when I picked “The Long Winter” off the shelf, that it would whisper truths that would reach past the pages and into my modern life–even life with its new tilt of this whole pandemic. Originally I read the book to encourage me to get through the last of our cold Colorado winter. I mean, how could I complain when Laura and her family faced blizzard after blizzard in the winter of 1880-1881?
But quickly, as the news of the coronavirus disrupted our lives, similarities began to leap from the pages of this book into our current situation. Even just the fact that the virus hit so suddenly, so unexpectedly reminded me of the blizzard that took over the town in “The Long Winter”. It just happened. One day they were in their little prairie house, the house they called home, and the next they were moving into the town to Pa’s store to live. No notice, no preparation. Sound familiar?
I also was quick to notice how the Ingalls, even in the midst of waking up to silvery frost in the morning (even indoors), running out of wood for the stove as well as kerosene for the lamp and wheat for food… somehow, in the middle of all this darkness and time of need, the Ingalls held onto a sliver of hope, a tiny fraction of light. And that was what the book was all about. That’s what kept me turning the pages. Sure, I have a pantry full of food and ways to obtain more if needed. I have toilet paper, well-functioning wifi, a mound of books yet to be read. I have my family safe by. But… what about the tiny light in the dark? That, after all, seemed to be the main essential the Ingalls’ were not willing to do without.
Let’s talk about this tiny, steady light in the dark. It doesn’t have to be a full out flame, even just a small spark will do. It can start as warmth that is small but strong. No matter what rails against it, it will not flicker or be put out. What is this “light” Pa and Laura spoke of? Is this light simply strength in spirit? A never-let-go kind of stubbornness that each one of us can summon up?
No, this true lasting light comes from something deeper. The Bible says of Jesus in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ ” Jesus is the light provider in our lives.
So how do we get this light? By following Jesus, specifically by putting our trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord (more information about that here https://www.agapelife.org/next-steps/ ). When we confess that Jesus is God’s Son and believe in our hearts we are saved. The light enters us never to flicker, dim or go away.
But what do I do if I have this light, but still the darkness rages? What if I feel like the light won’t overcome? The good news is “The light (Jesus) shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never overcome it” (John 1:5). God’s light wins every time. No matter how big the challenge or how long it takes.
I know in my life I have had several seasons of challenges, one of the hardest being a season after my third baby was born. During that time, it felt as if I were a panicked sailor on a small boat overwrought with damage in the middle of a raging storm. I was going down. But there was a small, tiny but strong light in the distance. The waves would hide it from me for a bit, but then they would toss and change and again, I could see that glimmer. It was always there. It wasn’t going anywhere. It was not flickering, or giving out or giving up on me and that gave me the amount of hope, of faith, I needed to get through that challenge. Now that I look back on this journey, I understand the reality of the whole situation is this: I was safe in God’s hand the whole time. Even when I felt my most hopeless, God was there- His light shining bright. He was next to me, pulling me out of the darkness and taking me safely home.
So, whether you find yourself in a bleak winter like Laura did all those years ago where things went from bad to worse, or you find yourself at home dealing with unending challenges during this pandemic, or you even find yourself with a health scare of some other form of darkness that tries sweep you off your feet…. I encourage you to remember to hold onto the Light. Focus in on it, even if it seems far away or small. It is strong, steady, sure. God’s light will lead us through anything and everything that comes our way and before long you will find yourself amongst the last lines of Laura’s book,
“As they sang, the fear and the suffering of the long winter seemed to rise like a dark cloud and float away on the music. Spring had come. The sun was shining warm, the winds were soft, and the green grass was growing.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder, “The Long Winter”
Spring is coming, dear friends, in each and every way.
Until next time,