In our classroom on Wednesday, thirteen little hearts and mine tried hard to comprehend fear and darkness, and the light that overcomes them both.

We were discussing a chapter from George MacDonald’s ‘The Princess and the Goblin,’ in which the princess is so frightened that she runs out of her home and up the dark mountainside, and gets lost in the welling night. In the distance, she sees her great-great-grandmother’s lantern shining brightly, leaves her fear behind, and follows the light home to safety.

I have a terrible tendency to get too caught up in the big picture, to try to communicate the whole grand vision to my students, rather than keeping it to their level of understanding. But then, isn’t that the point of classical education? To chase the white deer (Elizabeth Goudge reference. . .I may be slightly obsessed), the fleeting vision, though we cannot comprehend its entirety? Yes, let us describe what they can see and understand. . . but let us also tell them of the grand things they have yet to understand, and let us help them to move a little closer to that understanding, if we can.

And so, while we talked of the metaphors of fear and darkness, and we recognized together that the true Light is Jesus and His Word, I could not help but take the discussion a step further. I tried to play an Andrew Peterson song in class, but when my internet connection made this impossible, I read the lyrics, choking on tears and probably causing the seven- and eight-year-olds to wonder why Mrs. Raynor’s voice sounded so very strained and tight:

‘I am weary with the pain of Jacob’s wrestling
In the darkness with the Fear, in the darkness with the Fear
But he met the morning wounded with a blessing
So in the night my hope lives on. . .

I remember how they scorned the son of Mary
He was gentle as a lamb, gentle as a lamb
He was beaten, he was crucified, and buried
And in the night, my hope was gone. . .

I stopped there, tried to catch my breath. And then I tried to explain to the wondering faces why, after we had just discussed the great hope we have in Christ, I would read such a line. ‘In the night, my hope was gone.’

You see, if Christ is dead and buried, we have no hope. There is no situation, no circumstance in life that could ever be as utterly, perfectly hopeless as the one in which the disciples found themselves on a Friday almost two thousand years ago, with their Messiah hanging, dead, on a thief’s cross.

But neither the song nor the story ends there, I said. A blond eight-year-old raised his hand, concerned that I had not finished the story: ‘But Jesus rose!’

Yes, Jesus rose. Speak this truth again and again, little heart. Jesus lives. And because He lives, He proved the Father’s wrath completely satisfied, proved our sin forgiven. Proved that the Light shines again in the darkness.

And so, we have this Hope. Because Christ died, and because He is no longer dead, there is a lantern in the darkness. The darkness is real, of course. . . but if we are in Christ, we will never face a darkness so great as that of the Friday long ago. Never. Neither sickness in our own bodies, nor death of the ones we love, nor political tensions, nor any other created thing can ever present us with a darkness as deep and as terrifying as a dead Christ. . .

The darkness that was banished forever on the Sunday that our God rose.

‘But the rulers of earth could not control Him
They did not take his life–he laid it down
All the chains of death could never hope to hold him
So in the night my hope lives on. . .’

I don’t know how much of that sunk in to the little minds I taught on Wednesday, the minds who cannot be familiar with very great depths of darkness yet. But I pray that they will always hope in the hope we have in Christ. I pray that as they grow in their knowledge of the darkness of the world, that they will understand and love the Light of Christ all the more.

Oh, thank God that our Hope lives. . .

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