Lent begins in winter, when the daylight hours are short and the trees bare. By the time Lent ends, spring has started. I just walked in my front yard to see the crocus blooms. First the slender green shoots appeared, then happily, the purple blossoms. The world is getting lighter, in every sense.
In this passage Paul reminds us that God created light out of darkness in the first place. Out of utter darkness God created light, then a world for us to live in, then us with our senses to experience it. Then, Paul says, God took the darkness of the human heart and created light in it, when He sent Jesus. But Paul says that even though the light is there, some people don’t yet have their spiritual senses. Like not being able to see the crocuses, some don’t yet have the spiritual senses to experience things like the grace of God, blowing through our lives to give comfort or even joy.
Paul’s great joy is to be able to open the eyes of those spiritually blind. Mercy is a term we use when someone weak is shown a great kindness. This is the term Paul uses to describe the gift that God has given him in being a minister; “through God’s mercy we have this ministry…” (verse 1). Whenever you and I help someone experience God, God’s mercy has given us a great gift. No wonder Paul then goes on to describe how he can persevere in the hardships he can experience in that great passage in verses 8 ff; “ we are hard pressed, but not crushed…” Paul tells us, “I have some tough times (and remember how Paul suffered) but this is so exciting, I can’t help but give thanks!!” We all, if we serve God, will have tough times but let us remember what a gift it is to be able to help.