A little boy sat one night at the desk in his room, his pudgy face pressed against the paned-glass as he looked out into the street. He was watching a lamplighter going up and down the streets, lighting the old gas street lamps. His mother called him for dinner; he didn’t come. She had to call him a second time; still he didn’t come. When a third call was necessary, the mother went to his room and found him still absorbed in the lamplighter’s task. At last, aware of his mother’s presence, he exclaimed, “Look! Look! There is a man out there punching holes in the darkness!”
Christ calls us to punch holes in the darkness of this world. We are to punch holes in the darkness of hatred by forgiving those who have hurt us. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
We are to punch holes in the darkness created by those who tell us that all is vain, man’s life is utterly meaningless. How can life be meaningless when we think of God’s great love for each one of us! “What man of you,” said Jesus, “if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:10-12).
We are to punch holes in the darkness created by those who tell us that man is utterly alone in this world, that there is no place to go for help beyond himself. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest,” says Jesus. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 1:28-29).
There are those who suffer, who live in the darkness of loneliness and despair. We are to punch holes in their darkness by loving, caring, helping, visiting, comforting. “I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink: I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was sick and you visited me! Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink! … and the king will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ ‘
Anyone can curse the darkness that envelops man today — the darkness of evil, the darkness of despair, the darkness of hopelessness; but to light a candle for the suffering and the lost, a candle of hope, a candle of love, a candle of faith — this is to punch a hole in the darkness and dispel it. And this clearly is the task of the Christian.