January 26, 2020
The Rev. Dr. John Judson
2 Samuel 19:18b-23; Matthew 18:21-27
I want to begin this morning with two stories…similar and yet each with a different ending. The first is Ron’s story. Ron was a veteran who had learned how to do underwater welding and demolition in the navy. After the service he and a partner had opened a company that did both of those things. They were in great demand and built a very successful and profitable operation. One day though Ron got to work and there was a call on the answering machine. It was a vendor wondering why his check had bounced. Ron was surprised because he and his partner always carried enough cash to cover their bills. Once the bank opened, he called to check. What he discovered was that his partner had emptied all their accounts and vanished. Ron suddenly had no money to pay employees, vendors or to complete his companies existing contracts. It a short time his business went under. He declared bankruptcy. He lost everything. My second story is about Margaret. Margaret was a nurse who worked from almost fifty years at that occupation. She and her late husband had diligently saved for retirement. Her husband invested their funds with a broker that they trusted. Margaret’s husband died young, but she continued to invest her funds with their trusted friends. Finally, in her early seventies, she decided to retire. She requested monthly withdrawals, only to find that after the first couple of payments there was no more money. Their broker had spent it all on himself in a long running Ponzi scheme. She was broke and had to go back to work. Similar stories, yet different outcomes. One of these people never got over the loss and was angry the rest of their lives. The other, managed to find joy in the midst of loss and was a light to those around her. The difference? Forgiveness.
Last week, Bethany talked about God’s unconditional forgiveness. Today we are going to spend our time together learning about our call as Jesus followers to offer unconditional forgiveness as well. But before we talk about what forgiveness is, we are going to talk about what it is not. Forgiveness is not about forgetting or excusing the harm someone has done to us, or as scripture calls it, how they have sinned against us, or allowing that harm to continue. I say this because Peter’s question about forgiveness comes immediately after Jesus had told the disciples how to deal with someone who has sinned against them…or if you will, hurt them. Jesus taught that you are to go to that person and let them know what they have done, asking them to repent. If that doesn’t work, you are to take a friend and do the same thing. If that doesn’t work, you are to go with the elders and do the same. If that doesn’t work, you are to have the entire community speak with them. And if that doesn’t work, you are to exclude them from the community. As I said two weeks about loving radically, it does not mean allowing others to harm and abuse us or others. So, if forgiveness is not about forgetting, excusing or allowing continued harm, what is it? The only way I can describe it, is with a visual image…an image drawn from my work in a petrochemical plant south of Houston.
I need you all to use your imaginations. I want you to see a large vessel or tank that you can see in chemical plants. At the bottom of the vessel are two large pipes. One on one side and one on the other side. One of those pipes is where raw material flows in. The other is where product flows out. At the top of the tank is a third pipe, which also contains raw material. The input pipe on the top has a valve that can allow raw material in or keep it out. Finally, on the side of the vessel is a manhole cover. Got the image? Good, so here we go. The vessel is our heart, our soul, our inner being, our core self. On good days that heart, soul, inner being is filled through the input pipe with God’s love. When this love is processed in our inner selves by the Spirit, what comes out of us is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control. These are the fruits of the Spirit which pour forth into the world. We are, as Jesus puts it, light and salt to the world. But all this changes when someone sins against us, hurts us, betrays us, abuses us. What happens is that the valve on the second input line, automatically opens. And what comes from that line is not the love of God, but it is the toxic sludge of hate, anger, bitterness and vengeance. It is a toxic slurry that begins to fill our inner selves, blocking the love God tries to pour into us, eating away at our life…and then it begins to pour out into the world. And this sludge of hate, anger, bitterness and vengeance is as toxic for the world as it is for us. So where is forgiveness in all of this?
Forgiveness is what happens when we do two things, first we intentionally shut off the valve at the top of the tank. When we make a conscience decision to refuse to allow any more hate, anger, bitterness and vengeance to enter our beings. Second, we open the manhole cover and do the hard work of cleaning out all the toxic sludge that is in us. And I say that this is hard work because it is. It takes prayer, meditation, conversation, counseling and more. It is spiritual work. It is psychological work. I say that this getting rid of the toxic sludge is forgiveness, because that is the essence of the Greek word for forgiveness. It means to get rid of, set aside, cast away. In other words, forgiveness is throwing away all that toxic mess and allowing God’s love to once again fill on the inside. This is why forgiveness is unconditional, because forgiveness is self-work. It has nothing to do with the other. It has to do with us
The gift of forgiveness is twofold. First it opens the possibility of finding joy again. Forgiveness frees us. By removing the hate, anger, bitterness and vengeance, it frees us to be able allow God to fill us with all the good things that God desires for us. It allows us to find love, joy, peace, patience, goodness and kindness. It allows us to live as followers of Jesus so that we are a light to the world. Second, what it offers us the ability to restore relationships if those who hurt us are willing to seek reconciliation. For if someone seeks to confess and reconcile, it will do no good if we are still filled with the toxic sludge of hate, anger and bitterness; if we have not allowed God’s love to fill us and the Spirit to refine that love within us. We can see this at work in both of our stories. King David had been humiliated by Shimei as David had fled for his life. When David returns, his companions want David to take revenge, but David refuses because he understands that God has once again made him king; God’s steadfast love has filled him and so the desire for revenge is gone. David can accept Shimei’s apology. The same is true in the parable Jesus tells. The King is owed what in today’s world would be millions of dollars. His first inclination is to sell the man and his family as slaves. But when the man apologizes and declares he will make right the wrong he had done; the King has pity and sets aside the debt (note the similarity to forgiveness; casting aside). The King was able to set aside his hate, anger and bitterness and allow for the possibility of restoration. In neither of these stories is forgiveness about forgetting, excusing or allowing. They are about doing the hard work of cleaning out the toxic sludge so that reconciliation can happen.
And this was the difference between Ron and Margaret. Ron was never able to do this work, and so he remained bitter his whole life. Margaret was able to do this work and she found a life of joy and love once again. She was able to forgive unconditionally and in so doing was set free. My challenge to you then for this week is to be a Margaret; that if you are holding a grudge, if you are angry at someone, if you don’t believe you can every forgive, do the hard work or cleaning out your inner self…and find the peace and joy that unconditional forgiveness offers.
Rev. Bethany Peerbolte
January 19, 2020
Psalm 103:1-12; John 21: 15-19
You are forgiven. That thing you did that loops in your mind’s eye before you fall asleep. The regret that follows you everywhere. Let it be, God has forgiven you. This is an amazing truth! It is one of my favorite things to remind people of. In fact, I think if the world understood this one thing, truly became convinced of their forgiveness, we would have instant world peace. God’s unconditional forgiveness is one of those warm and fuzzy doctrines we wrap around us when the world gets cold. But…
Unconditional forgiveness is a theological minefield. Let me just trigger one of the mines for you. Hebrews 2:9 “Jesus tasted death for everyone” 1 John 2:2 “He is the appeasement for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” What great news, until you realize Hitler was in our world – a little less warm and fuzzy now. Unconditional forgiveness for a world that includes Hitler has been a topic of debate among theologians and continues today. These verses say Jesus died for the forgiveness of “the whole world.” But I am not looking forward to bumping into Hitler in heaven.
So maybe these verses don’t mean the whole world. Maybe there is some condition involved to receive God’s forgiveness. Maybe we need to repent. There are tons of verses that talk about repenting and then being forgiven, maybe they are right and not these “whole world” verses. Maybe there is a level of belief one needs to have, or a percentage of obedience, or show of outward change. The whole world can’t be the truth of forgiveness.
If any one of these conditions is real then that means there is a corner of humanity that forgiveness cannot reach. A darkness that keeps some people out of the promises of forgiveness. We are more than happy to put Hitler in that corner. He ran for the darkness at full speed. But if that dark corner exists, how can I be sure I haven’t stumbled in unknowingly? If there is a place that is too far gone, I can never be sure if I have repented enough, or obeyed enough, or believed enough, or changed enough. How can you measure the essence of a person’s goodness verse badness?
There is a story about Archimedes being asked to make an impossible measurement like this. He was asked by a king to determine if a crown was 100% gold or not. The king had given 1000grams of gold to the gold smith to make a crown. But the king suspected that the gold smith replaced some of the gold with silver and pocketed the gold for himself. Archimedes had to figure out a way to test the crown without destroying it. Archimedes knew he had to measure the crown’s density. But to get that he needed to know the mass and the volume of the crown. Mass was easy enough with a scale, but there was no way to find the volume of an irregular shape. And he could not melt the crown to make it a regular shape. How could he measure the volume?
It is said he was stepping into a bath when he suddenly yelled, ““Eureka!” which means, “I have found it!”
What he had found is now called Archimedes principle, a way to measure the volume of something with an irregular shape. As Archimedes got into his bath he observed the water overflowing more and more as he submerged himself. He realized he could collect the displaced water and that would tell him the volume of the object. He could then test the crown by measuring how much water it displaced and measure its mass to calculate density. Then compare it to how much water was displaced by 1000grams of pure gold and that mass. If the resulting calculations were the same the gold smith was honest, if not, well it was bad news for the gold smith.
Who knew “shower thoughts” were a thing all the way back in 275 BCE! There must be something woven into our brains that makes certain places fruitful ground for thinking. Places where the vast capacity of the brain to imagine is unlocked and we feel free to contemplate the mysteries of life. Maybe the shower isn’t your thinking place, maybe for you the quiet morning hours are the best place to think with the first sips of coffee awakening your brain. Mine seems to be the moment right before sleep, when my brain should be shutting down but instead it is finally coming up with brilliant comebacks and better plans of action than I could have thought of hours before.
These swaths of time, where our brains work unencumbered, can lead to amazing moments of “Eureka!” where our full creative capacity is unleashed. These times are also pockets where our regrets fester. Where our creative brains turn against us and ruminate over sins we have committed, words we can never take back, actions we should have taken, and sudden realizations of how our choices have led us to the consequences we can no longer avoid. We have all been in this headspace. Feeling far away from forgiveness, thinking “am I too far gone?” “Am I stuck in that corner of darkness forgiveness cannot reach?”
Peter is in one of these pits as he sits with the risen Christ. He hides it well, but weighing on his conscious is the fact that in Jesus’ most desperate hour Peter chose to deny even knowing his friend. Three times he denies Jesus. Now as he sits next to Jesus eating breakfast his spirit is heavy with regret and shame. He tries to cover it up by being overly welcoming to Jesus, jumping out of the boat to swim to shore and be the first to greet him. As he sits with Jesus during breakfast, Jesus turns to Peter and asks, “Do you love me?” and Peter quickly answers, “Yes.” Jesus asks again, “Do you love me?” and Peter answers again, “I do.” Then Jesus asks a third time and Peter finally hits the moment of “Eureka!”
He realizes Jesus knows everything - everything, every denial. Jesus knows what Peter did to him, and worse what he didn’t do for him. He didn’t stand firm and support his friend, he ran away. The memories flash of each person asking if he knew Jesus. Each “NO” rings louder in his head. When the rooster crowed, he remembers Jesus saying he would deny him and the pain cuts through him. Jesus knew he would run away the whole time. And now sitting with Jesus, Peter relives each moment again. His brain giving him a bird’s eye view to each denial and feeling each stab of pain again.
Jesus asks three times because Peter denied three times. But also, Jesus wanted Peter to get to the “Eureka!” moment. The moment where a new realization changes Peter’s world. And events that seemed out of place suddenly snap into focus. At “Eureka!” Peter cannot be the same as he was before because suddenly, he knows the full weight of what has happened. “Eureka!” He is forgiven.
Peter realizes the forgiveness he has does not come from his overexuberant welcome of Jesus. His forgiveness is not dependent on his answers to Jesus’ question of love now, because Jesus knew Peter’s sins as he walked to the cross and Jesus did not turn away from Peter. “Eureka!” I have found it.
The thing Peter finds is unconditional forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is unconditional. It comes before we repent, before we can work to earn it, before we can change our ways, before we are worthy, before we even know we need it. That’s what makes it unconditional. While we were still sinning, God forgave the world.
So…what do we do with the Hitler problem? Because if God forgives the world and there is no pocket of darkness outside of forgiveness’s reach for someone like Hitler. If we are all in the same glorious light of forgiveness, why would anyone choose to be good? Being good is hard. It is not always the easy or more comfortable choice. In those situations, where being good is harder than being bad, what would motivate someone in a world of unconditional forgiveness to choose to be good? I think the answer is in the second half of the exchange Jesus and Peter have. After each confession of love, Jesus asks Peter to take care of his people.
Peter has already been forgiven so his response to Jesus’ request can’t change that. The reason Jesus makes the request is because he knows when someone has had a “Eureka!” moment they will want to do something about it. When Archimedes made his discovery, it is said he jumped out of the bath and ran naked through town to his laboratory to begin testing his new theory. He could not wait to see how the world had changed in light of his discovery.
We do not need to change to be forgiven. That is offered by God without condition. But if we have truly encountered the unconditional forgiveness of God it’s going to change us. Because we have found it, “Eureka!” a different life, a new world of possibilities.
When King David had his “Eureka!” moment, he writes this: (Psalm 103)
Praise the Lord, who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for us
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
David’s response to the unconditional forgiveness of God is to make sure others know who God truly is.
People who have had their “Eureka!” moment are going to impact the world differently. The evil we displace with our presence will be great. A “Eureka!” person is going to have more of an effect on the world than a person who is still worried if they are in a dark corner of humanity.
We will still have moments when our brain tries to convince us we have gone too far. But after “Eureka!” we know the way out of the pit. And we can waste less time ruminating on our mistakes and use those times of uninhibited creativity to think of how to make the world a better place. Instead of worrying about the what ifs of our past, we are free to imagine the what ifs of our future.
Why would someone choose good? Because they know how powerful good can be. They have felt evil’s weight, worried that they could never throw it off, and then forgiveness lifted it away. “Eureka!” people choose to do good because good chose them first.
Wherever your best thinking place is, whether it is in the shower, or in bed, or in the car, wherever it is that your creativity thrives, I want you to write the word “EUREKA!” to remind yourself that you are forgiven unconditionally. Do not waste another moment worrying about how God sees you. Because before any of it you were forgiven. Let that truth sink in. I can’t wait to see what evil you displace with that newfound reality.
“Eureka!” you are forgiven.
January 12, 2020
The Rev. Dr. John Judson
Leviticus 19:17-18; 1 John 3:11-17
It looked like a great idea. In fact, I had always wanted to be able to do it but had no idea how or where to begin. But there it was, right in front of me, in black and white, in the latest edition of Sport’s Illustrated. It was a plan about how to learn to run a marathon. I am not sure why it appealed to be, but there was just something about the open road, the solitude of running, and running that far that made it sound wonderful. So, I began. I did a mile, then two miles, then three. I began to lower my time on three miles. Then one day, it dawned on me. This is ridiculous. My knees hurt. My back hurt. I was sucking wind. Why, I asked myself, would anyone want to do this? And so, it was back to basketball, where the longest run was down the court. I wonder how many of us have had something we have always wanted to do…maybe an exercise regime, perhaps a new diet, a new hobby…got started and then somewhere along the way decided, this is ridiculous. I am never going to be able to do this? Any of you? With that in mind, I wonder how many of us here this morning have gone through this with the desire to be a more loving person, to love our neighbor as ourselves, or as the sermon title puts it love radically, then come to the conclusion that to do so was ridiculous because it was too hard.
I ask this because loving others, especially loving others who may not love us, who may not think like us, believe like us, look like us or act like us is probably one of the hardest things human beings can be asked to do. In fact, in many ways it works against millions of years of evolutionary behavior that has caused animals and our human ancestors to protect themselves by being part of smaller, triable units and putting up walls to keep “the other” out. It goes against human traditions that encourage certain people groups to conquer other people groups in order to make “the other” be like us, to enslave them or perhaps even exterminate them. And yet this is what we are called to do, not only by Jesus, but by the Torah, the Law of Moses. In fact, the passage we read out of Leviticus this morning, has been called the heart and center of the Torah by countless rabbis and rabbinical scholars. They point out that it sums up all the love that God’s people are to have for the poor, the alien, the neighbor, the laborer, the deaf, the blind, fellow citizens, windows and orphans. Jesus will add to this list with our enemies and those who are considered ritually or socially unclean or unacceptable. It ma be then, that once upon a time we decided that loving radically was the thing to do, but then life intervened and we decided it was not doable. If that is the case for you, then I want to invite you to try again, because loving radically, loving neighbor is at the heart of following Jesus. And like Sports Illustrated, I will lay out for you a twostep plan for working toward this goal.
The first step is to treat no one as an enemy. The language scripture uses, rather than referring to someone as an enemy, is that we are not to hate another. Leviticus puts it this way. “You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin…you shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge” which is another way of saying treat no one as an enemy. And we are not to do this because when we hate, when we treat someone as an enemy, it breaks the sacred bond between ourselves and God, cutting us off from God, who is the very source of our life and our love. How this works is that in God’s relational ecology, every human being is a child of God, made in God’s image and part of God’s one human family. I cannot stress this enough, that in God’s relational ecology every human being is a child of God, made in God’s image and part of God’s one human family. And so when we hate another human being, it means we hate that persons family and we hate the one who created that family, meaning God. And in so doing, as I said, we separate ourselves from God by believing that people God wants to redeem because they are part of God’s family, are people that ought to be destroyed. The second thing about hatred, about making someone our enemy, is that it is a virus. When we hate others, it does not remain within us. It spreads. It spreads to our families, our friends, our community and our country. And in so doing we divided God’s one human community, rather than bringing them together. Step one, treat no one as an enemy.
Step two is to treat everyone as a friend. This is what love between family members is all about. Last week we talked about God’s love for us, is parent to child love. The love we are to have as neighbors, is to treat everyone as a friend. Treating people as friends consists of two parts. The first part is presence. It is that friends are present for their friends in times of need. 1 John puts it this way. “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?” And if you want to see what this looks like just go back to the “Did You Know” in the bulletin and look at the ways, you were present for people in this community. This is how we are to treat all people, to be present as best as we can, even if they are not in our immediate friendship circle. The second part of being a friend is to speak the truth in love. We hear this in Leviticus. “You shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt.” What this means is that we are to be God’s agents, as best we can, to stop people from harming us, themselves or others. I want to pause here for a moment to speak a word. One of the great sins of Christianity is that over the centuries we have taught that radical love means allowing others to do to us whatever they want to do. This is especially true for women who were told that loving their spouses or others in positions of power meant to allow those people to abuse them. This is not love. This is not being a friend. Being a friend is speaking the truth that such actions are not what God intends. Being a friend then often means standing up for the vulnerable and speaking truth to power to protect them. Step two, treat everyone as a friend.
Loving radically, loving our neighbors as ourselves, is perhaps one of the most difficult things Jesus’ followers are called to do. Yet, we can do it. We can do it because Jesus did it. I know that Jesus was fully divine, yet I also know that Jesus was fully human. Jesus got angry. Jesus cried. Jesus was tempted. Yet Jesus never treated anyone as the enemy. He treated all persons as deserving of being redeemed. Jesus treated everyone as a friend. He was there for the rich and poor, insiders and outsiders, sick and healthy. He was there for the world. He showed us how to radically love. First John puts it this way. “We know love by this, that he, Jesus, laid down his life for us…and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. So this morning as we try again to love radically I want to offer you a spiritual practice that can help. When you arise each morning, take a moment in silence. Slowly breathe in and then out. Sense your breath. Then as you breathe in say silently, “God loves the world.” Then as you breathe out, say silently, “I love the world.” And as you do, allow God’s love to fill you and cast out all hate and anger, so that you can breathe love into the world as you follow Jesus by loving radically.
January 5, 2020
The Rev. Dr. John Judson
Psalm 25:1-10; John 3:16-21
I want to begin this New Year with a quick survey. How many of you have ever used Map Quest? Google Maps? Apple Maps or any other GPS mapping system? Good. How many of you have ever had it get you to where you were supposed to go? Even better. One of the interesting things about these programs is that in order to get you to where you want to go, they need to know your starting location. Map Quest in particular asks you to specify your starting location. You can choose work, home, current location or any other you desire. It makes sense to do this or else the directions might not be of much use. And so, this morning I want to begin with that question of where do we want to start? Where do we want to begin our Following Jesus journey? I say that because the starting point of this journey will determine how we understand what it means to follow Jesus. Where then shall we start? I believe that we need to start with God, or more specifically with the love of God. Whether it is Genesis, the letters of Paul or the writings of John Calvin, the beginning point of following Jesus is always God and God’s love. So what does God’s love look like? It looks like the love of parent to child. It is not friend to friend love, or child to parent love. It is the love of a parent for a child, which is comprised of two parts. The first part is to protect the children from harm. The second part is to guide the children into becoming their best selves; reaching their full potential. I got a taste of what this looks like on our flight from Detroit to Nashville, this last week from a man I will call Window Seat Guy.
Window Seat Guy was one of those people whom we have all met, who will tell you their entire life story before you arrive at your destination. This is Window Seat Guy’s story. He had grown up in a blue-collar family and had come to Detroit as a teen to work with his Uncle in the asphalt business. He was quickly fired from that but found a job on the line with GM. Retiring after 20 years, he then became an HVAC tech. Along the way way he had eight children; seven boys and then a girl. He told us that he understood his job as a parent to first say no for his children to things that would hurt them, until they could say no for themselves. In other words, to protect them. His second obligation was to guide them into becoming mature adults. His method for doing this including contacting the teachers of each of his children at the beginning of the school year to make sure that the teachers knew that the had their back and would make sure that his children did what they were told to do. He would also drop by the school to make sure his kids were behaving. When they were not, he had them do things such as pick up trash out front of their school. If his children missed the bus, they had to walk…with him in the car following them. When they missed curfew, they had to sleep in the car in the drive way. He checked their homework every night to ensure that it was done. The results? All eight graduated from high school. Six graduated from college. One has a masters and one just graduated from law school. Parental love; protect and guide.
We can see that this is the kind of love God offers throughout the scriptures and particularly in the Psalm we read this morning. In Psalm 25 we see the writer asking God for protection and guidance. “Do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me. Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame.” This desire for protection is at the heart of the Biblical story, whether it was keeping Abraham safe on his journey or freeing the people from bondage. The covenant relationship is that God will be the protector of the people. At the same time, we can see the Psalmist asking for guidance. “Make me know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me me in your truth and teach me…Good and upright is the Lord, therefore he instructs sinners in the way; he leads the humble in what it with, he teaches the humble the way…”. And God does all of this because of God’s “hesed” or steadfast love. “Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord and of your steadfast love, for they have been of old. Do not remember my transgressions; but according to your steadfast love remember me…all the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness…” The writer understood clearly the nature of God’s love as a love that protects and guides even when the children do not always follow.
It is this love, this “hesed,” this steadfast love, that is the reason that God sent the only son into the world. It is for this reason that God, the Word, became flesh and dwelt among full of grace and truth. “For God so loved the world that he sent his only so, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal love. Indeed, God did not send the son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him…but those who do what is true come to the light so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” In other words, once again we see God’s love being poured out for us through Jesus. In Jesus god has come to protect the world; to protect the world from its greatest enemy, death itself. That by breaking the power to death Jesus, for God, makes possible lives fully lived without fear. At the same time Jesus come as the one who not only teaches the way of God as an abstract concept but embodies it in all that he does, and then he passes this way of love on to us through the gift of the Spirit. It is Jesus who brings us, as John says, out of the darkness and into the light of life. Our journey of following Jesus then begins here…with the love of God for the world as lived and breathed through God’s covenant faithfulness that culminates in the birth, life’s death and resurrection of Jesus.
My challenge to you this week then is to ask yourselves, where have I seen, or perhaps where do I see, God at work protecting me and guiding me in my life? Where do I see God saying no for me until I know how to say know, and where do I see God bringing me to the light and out of the darkness? Then remember those and give thanks.