In his inspirational book, A Touch of Wonder, Arthur Gordon tells of a grave stone put up somewhere in England after one of the horrific bombings of WWII. Inscribed on it were these words:
There is not enough darkness in the world to put out the light of one small candle.
The stone marked the grave of a lonely, old woman’s pet, perhaps the last bit of comfort she had in a world where the advance of evil was occurring at an alarming and seemingly uncontrollable rate. Despite the loss of her pet, this lady took a gallant stand—she refused to believe that darkness had the final say.
And she was right.
Noah had a similar mindset. He lived in a world that didn’t just bring boatloads of disappointment and pain to right-thinking people—it brought it to God (Genesis 6:5-6). How bad were things? Moses tells us that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time (Genesis 6:5). Note the absolutes: every, only, all. There have always been extremely difficult times and places to live but the world of Noah’s day took second to no one!
In the midst of such malignancy, we’re told that Noah walked faithfully with God. It does our hearts good whenever we hear of someone saying or doing something that defies the tyranny of evil—when oppressive people or structures are stood up to and exposed for what they really are. Think of six-year-old Ruby Bridges walking past a screaming mob to go to school or Gandhi’s non-violent protest. This is precisely what Noah did. By living as a light in a world bent on darkness, he exposed the world’s villainy.
We not only rejoice because of the rightness of such behavior, we are thrilled by it because of what it does for us—it fills us with hope. This is ultimately why role models are so important. It is not simply what they do, it’s what their example tells us what we can do that is so powerful and compelling. Whoever said that example is the only teacher might have been overstating the case a bit, but not terribly so.
Without hope from such role models, we meander through life with our heads down and our hearts burdened. With hope, we become aware and alive to the possibilities that exist when by faith we walk with God as Noah did. Hope is more than a blessing; it helps us to be a blessing.
One final thought—hope is like money; there is hope that is the real thing and hope that is counterfeit. There’s always lots of the bogus stuff being passed around. In a consumer culture like ours, you see it offered through everything from more stuff to more status. Just as all legitimate money is traceable to the Federal Treasury, all true hope comes from God. You don’t win it in a lottery—living hope comes from the living Lord (1 Peter 1:3).
Live with hope and defy the darkness.