You’ve no doubt heard the saying before – ‘there’s light at the end of the tunnel’. Say it around the right (or wrong) kind of person and your attempts at positivity might be squashed by the response “hopefully it’s not a train coming to run you down!” (Hilarious!)
It’s a well used sentiment. When times are tough, when we’re in seasons of difficulty or despair, when we are swamped with busyness or challenging circumstances – we feel like we’re in the darkness of a tunnel. The idea that there is light at the end of it can be our best attempt at a more hopeful outlook. The notion that at some point, this time will be over and on the other side of it there will be a time of brightness or lightness – where this heaviness will be lifted and there is a new day to be experienced and enjoyed.
I’ve used it myself. I’ve heard it myself. It seemed to make sense enough.
Until one particularly difficult ‘tunnel’ season about 15 years ago. I was recently separated from a difficult and damaging marriage. I was completely messed up in terms of how I saw myself and what I was expecting from life and relationships and my future. It was so dark. Trying to process my way through it all was intensely overwhelming. There wasn’t hope IN my relationship and outside of it there was so much fear, uncertainty and self-doubt. Of course, it came in waves. Sometimes I was ‘ok’ but then others times it just felt like ALL despair and hopelessness. The grief and pain seemed all consuming.
In one of those more harrowing times I was talking to a good friend and ministry pal, Jeff. He remembers the conversation as well because it became quite significant for him too. He was trying to speak something positive or life-filled into my circumstances. Wanting to tell me it would ‘be ok’ – to paint a picture of something more hopeful for my future than what I was able to see for myself. And he went to use that phrase “the light is at the end of the tunnel” – but he felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to a greater truth and instead, what he said out loud to me was. “Mate, the light is IN the tunnel!”
Despite my grief and my despair, God was present and active – right ‘here’ and right ‘now’. He wasn’t out there waiting for me at the end of the tunnel. He was with me IN the tunnel. The light of His truth was not just a thing off in the distance or somewhere in the future or on the other side of the hurt and hardship. Here and now. His hope, His peace, His joy, His grace and His love, were all present here IN the tunnel. It was so powerful.
It’s 15 years ago now and I remember it with clarity. Because not only did it start to immediately change my focus, attitude and expectation; to shift what I was looking at and looking for. But it also became a picture that has stuck with me and that God used to shape my attitude and posture during the intensity of that time but also – from that – to be something of my life message.
God’s presence IN our tunnels and IN our hardships means that they aren’t wasted times, or times of abandonment and rejection. He is present and active.
The message of my book and that I get to preach all across the country on the topic of Singleness is birthed in this concept. These seasons are never wasted. They’re not just the dark tunnel on the way to the light. They’re not just waiting times. God is present and active in every moment. He is working all things for our good and His glory. He is turning even what was intended for evil into something good and purposeful.
The light is IN the tunnel.
How might that encourage you or someone around you today? How might that truth shift the way we experience our dark tunnel times?