Article’s about last night’s total “blood moon” lunar eclipse (where the red part of light is cast onto the moon’s surface) evoked all kinds of comments about science versus religion. “Light”, of course, being a BIG word in both circles. I got to wondering, how many times does the word light appear in the bible? So I looked it up.
Using the bible and an online Christian reference*, here are the results:
Light appears 272 times. This includes both the Old and New Testament, but does not include variations of light (Lighted, Lighting, Daylight, etc.)
To gain a comparison of its usage and importance, I looked up these other words (again, this does not include variations):
Faith appears 247 times.
Wisdom – 234 times.
Grace – 170 times.
Joy – 165 times.
Salvation – 164 times.
Believe – 143 times.
Forgive – 56 times.
Redemption – 20 times.
Obviously, light is an important word in biblical circles.
Some of these words (specifically: salvation and redemption) were not listed on the Christian reference site I used and I needed to combine information from various avenues. I suspect that may be because of translation issues.
Light, however, was on every resource I viewed. No doubt someone could dispute me on this, it was hardly exhaustive research. Nonetheless, there is no disputing the importance of light in the bible, and given our nature of always looking for answers, is it any wonder we’re all fascinated with it?
Light was right up there, comparable or only slightly under some heavy hitting words. Like:
Pray (313 times), Love (310 times), Covenant (292 times).
The really Big Words? The one’s that were literally off the charts in distance from all the rest? No surprise there:
Jesus – 983 times, (all in the New Testament).
God – 4,444 times.
Lord – 7,946 times.
Much of the time, when the word light appears in the bible, it is referring to God’s light inside of us. As in:
- In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.
- … arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
- The spirit of man [is] the candle of the LORD.
- …thy whole body also is full of light.
- … for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof.
- For God… hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
- Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
- He knoweth what [is] in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him.
It’s not hard to think that perhaps light is an integral part of God’s nature, and perhaps even is One with the Holy Spirit, as well as part of our own nature and the natural laws of the universe.
For the record, the words:
Holy Spirit appears 7 times (3 times in the Old Testament and 4 times in the New Testament).
Holy Ghost appears 89 times, in the New Testament only.
Might it be that a quest to understand light could really just be the Holy Spirit within, driving us ever closer to understanding the nature of God?
Then again: how did we get here; do we have a purpose; where are we going… isn’t this also a quest that we’re all on? Whether we consciously state it in those terms, doesn’t everyone ponder the Big questions in life?
And given how physically we respond to light, and that every cell in our body has light receptors (see: Clocking The Light), could it be that both scientist and theologian are just using different protocols to study the same thing?
Note: Translating the biblical manuscripts is difficult. Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic usage differs from English in grammar and structure, so there is no definitive translation. Also, the number of times the word light (and its derivatives) appear in the bible depends on which bible version you are using. For the sake of this article, I used the King James (KJV) version. The KJV was translated by the combined efforts of approximately 50 scholars and all scripture quotes are in the public domain.
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(Re: usage of light in the Bible.)
What do you do when you learn that someone you care about is in trouble? Serious trouble. The kind of trouble they can’t hide from. Can’t run from. And can’t ignore.
The kind of trouble where the authorities can only help them so far.
I’ve been recovering of late from a bad knee injury. It’s left me on crutches and throbs mercilessly, despite pain relievers. Hubby’s been good to me… he’s done the grocery shopping, dishes… carries things I can’t fit into the plastic bag slung over a crutch. He’s taken care of our pets, and fixes me breakfast in the morning.
Yep, he’s a great guy.
Despite my blessings, my spirits have been in the toilet all week. The prognosis from the orthopedist left me wallowing in self-pity, crying and praying about how inconvenient this all was for me, at this point in my life.
I have lots of gardening to do. A house that’s getting dirtier by the minute. Writing to complete.
Sitting at my computer bothers my knee. Standing is difficult and exhausting. Lying on either side is painful as well.
My grandiose plans for the summer are shot all to hell.
Like many people of faith, I’ve also felt a lot of self-condemnation for not being stronger in my faith during tough times.
Who was I to cry to God over such a little thing? Especially when every day I see messages on Facebook from friends who are struggling with far greater trials.
I only wish the best for my Facebook friends, but there’s still a disconnect there. I know that sounds awful, but it’s true. You can wish the best for someone and pray for them. Even find their situation creeping into your everyday consciousness, urging you to pray for them some more.
That’s called empathy, and empathy is important. All help we give to others starts with empathy. We are standing on the hillside, looking down at the flood in the valley, concerned for the occupants below.
But when trouble comes to someone who plays a bigger part in your life – someone you’re connected to in ways that are not dependent on Facebook – that’s when you go beyond empathy and find yourself sliding down that hillside, dangerously close to the flood waters yourself.
That’s where I found myself yesterday.
Thoughts of my puny knee problem dissipated in the face of those flood waters, and please, if you are reading this, pray for my friend. (I’m respecting her privacy and not telling you more about her, but God will know who you are praying for).
This is the part where I’m supposed to say that the lesson I learned from all this is to be grateful for my puny knee problem (which, believe me, I now am)… but I’m not going to say that.
Instead, I’m going to tell you that I think we have every right to have self-pity sometimes. Certainly my friend does.
Wallowing doesn’t help, but we need time to deal with the difficult emotions in life. Pain hurts. Physical and emotional. We’re flesh and blood – and whether you agree with this or not – we are ruled by our emotions.
We can garner all our efforts to control our thoughts, our circumstances or outcomes. It matters not one bit. Our emotions are not just extensions of ourselves which we can pluck out and set on a shelf. Hiding them from others or even from ourselves doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Ironically, in a strange twist of fate, self-denial of your emotions seems to give them even more control over you. Like a thief you turn your back on.
Emotions are our world. They are who we are. They are the reason behind the way you act, react, or fail to act at all.
Learning techniques to control your emotions can be helpful, yes. (Dare I point out that religion itself is one of those ways?) But you can’t stop yourself from feeling.
I think God understands we need time to process strong emotion. Time to calm the fears enough to develop a plan.
You can’t think straight and find refuge until you’re able to turn your face and identify your pursuer.
Christianity tells us that God does not condemn us for our weaknesses. Some believe (and some scriptures suggest) that our trials are given to us to test our faith and make us worthy of God. I don’t really buy that. Or maybe I just don’t buy the way it’s used in religious circles.
That implies we have to attain a certain standard before God will accept us. It implies punishment.
Sorry Charlie… but we will never attain that standard. That was the whole point of Christ’s sacrifice. The whole point of Grace. When God looks at us, he see’s us not as ourselves, but as he sees his son. Righteous and pure.
Troubles fall on everyone. Good person or bad, no one is excluded.
Our societal mentality is that people cause their own troubles. I hate this “punish the victim” mentality. Not all of our troubles are brought on by self, or within our power to control. Even those that are, we don’t intentionally do to hurt ourselves.
We are not being punished.
God is not out to get us.
Rather, his love and power is never more available to us then when those flood waters are rising over our heads.
Until we can find that branch to hold onto, to lift us out of our despair and rest on shore, we can call on that power of God. We don’t even have to know how to pray. And we certainly don’t have to apologize for our neediness.
That four letter word? Just look to God and cry… H-E-L-P.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV):
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Romans 8:26 (NIV):
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
Walter Matthau made a movie in 1967 called A Guide For The Married Man. He played Paul Manning, a businessman who one day realizes that his friend and neighbor, Ed (played by Robert Morse), has been repeatedly cheating on his wife. Paul talks to Ed about this and Ed takes it upon himself to “educate” Paul in the art of cheating, without getting caught.
Ed has no guilt whatsoever over his affairs. He’s a bad influence on Paul, who pretty soon starts noticing all the pretty women and opportunities around him, including a classy, beautiful woman who works in his office. As the movie progresses, Paul begins to follow Ed’s advice and lays the groundwork for his first extra-marital affair.
If you love the old bedroom farce comedies, you’ll want to see this movie. In which case, don’t read the next sentence… Spoiler Alert: at the end, Paul’s conscience keeps him from following through, Ed does get caught by a private detective his wife hired, and Paul rushes home to his loving wife and never thinks of cheating again.
I saw this movie on the classic movie channel during a particularly difficult stretch in my marriage. I loved my husband, but all we did was fight.
We argued about everything, nothing was too inconsequential. The more we fought, the easier it was to lose our tempers the next time. Each round of arguments came faster until finally, it seemed we couldn’t communicate in any other way.
I began to dislike him – strongly – and everything he did grated on my nerves. The way he played with his napkin, the habit he had of leaving the milk out, even the sound of his voice irritated me. I began to wonder what life would be like if I left my marriage.
What led to this sorry state in our relationship I don’t remember. I think I didn’t know even then; if you had asked me, I probably would’ve just listed my current grievances.
Anger is like that. You forget the trigger and concentrate on the wound. Anyway, this is when I saw Walter Matthau’s movie.
In the movie, Paul is advised by Ed to start fights with his wife, thus giving him an excuse to leave the house (wherein he can then go and meet his mistress without his wife suspecting the real reason he’s left home for the evening). So Paul starts to build a pattern of arguing with his wife, over every little thing.
Mystified, his wife seeks professional counsel. The counselor tells the wife not to argue. No matter what Paul says or what fight he tries to start, (the counselor advises) don’t do it.
That night the wife makes a martini for Paul (my memory is a bit fuzzy in this part, but you’ll get the gist). Paul barks at her that she should know he’d rather have a Manhattan. Instead of arguing, the wife gets her husband a Manhattan. Paul then complains about the Manhattan. The rest of the scene is along the same lines, with Paul trying to argue and his wife responding by being congenial. Paul’s unable to leave that night, and his plans are stymied.
I saw this scene and thought it made sense. Hubby and I had a pattern of fighting, and this seemed a way to break that pattern. So I followed the movie’s advice and stopped arguing.
I just stopped.
If necessary, I would leave the room, go to the bathroom, take a walk… whatever. But I broke the pattern. I’d like to tell you it worked instantaneously, but in truth it took a few weeks of teeth-gritting determination on my part.
It did work though. Our habit of fighting gave way to “egg-shell walking”. Which regained us respect for each other. Which then turned to “like”, and finally back to Love. I’m not exaggerating when I say that breaking that pattern turned our marriage from a bitter pill to a blessed union. We had our own love affair.
Nowadays, biophysicists tell us that our emotions create chemical pathways in our brain that, when repeated, become bigger and stronger, causing us to re-create and add more triggers that will lead us to those pathways.
In other words, we become addicted to our emotions.
We find more and more ways to be angry, sad, etc. Whatever our addictive emotion, we seek it out.
That certainly explains why Hubby and I couldn’t stop fighting. It also explains why breaking the pattern worked. You have to recognize and intentionally break those destructive neural pathways and replace them with new patterns.
Easier said than done.
God had this figured out a long time ago, when he advised us to recognize our anger, don’t ignore it, but also do not let it control you. Instead, shine His light on the subject, ask for his help, and allow Him to help you break that pattern.
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Ephesians 4:26-27
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. 1 John 1:7
I wasn’t a Christian at the time Hubby and I were in our destructive pattern. But God knows us – past, present, and future – and sometimes uses the most unlikely sources to bring His light into our lives and heal our wounds.
I’ve told others this story, and marriages were mended for at least two other couples that I know of, all because of that silly little movie. I wonder, is Walter Matthau sitting in heaven right now, himself amazed?
I’m not implying that all marriage problems can be fixed by this story. Far from it. Certainly there are some marriages that shouldn’t be. I’m no marriage counselor and I don’t claim to be.
But God is. And apparently, so was Walter Matthau.