Have you ever noticed that as the night becomes darker, the more illuminating stars become?
One of my favorite quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr., is “Only in the darkness can you see the stars“.
The quote, the origin of which can be traced back to 19th century Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, was used by King in a sermon titled “The Death of Evil upon the Seashore“. In that sermon, King conflated the providential escape of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery, with the plight of African-Americans for equality and freedom from oppression. One could certainly argue that the denial of basic freedoms constituted a form of enslavement for African-Americans during that time.
Within the context of that sermon, King uses stars as a metaphor for good, and darkness as a metaphor for evil – the light of truth and hope being symbols of good, and the darkness of lust for power, oppression, and hate being symbols of evil.
On September 11, 2001, a nation was plunged into the darkest of nights by evil incarnated in 19 Islamic extremists, who took the lives of 2,977 men, women, and children in four coordinated terrorist attacks.
Although the extremists proclaim ‘Allahu Akbar’ – translated meaning “God is Greater” – the actual godlessness and depravity of those attacks would suggest that these extremists were blinded by the darkness described in 1 John 2:7-11.
“My dear friends, I’m not writing anything new here. This is the oldest commandment in the book, and you’ve known it from day one. It’s always been implicit in the Message you’ve heard. On the other hand, perhaps it is new, freshly minted as it is in both Christ and you—the darkness on its way out and the True Light already blazing! … whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.”
The nexus between stars and the “True Light” can be described as a manifestation of “Shekinah” glory – being where God dwells or where his divine presence is.
So consider this thought: Just as stars pierce the darkest of nights, so also does the light of truth pierce the darkest of evils.
The hope and assurance we find in Shekinah glory is that no matter how dark the night, the glory of God can always pierce through it. Good over evil. Light over darkness.
Hope over despair.