There are moments in our lives when our personal world is filled with darkness.

Tragedy, loss, bereavement, rejection and failure are all common experiences. There is no living human being who holds the power to avoid being touched by pain. There is no defense strong enough to make us invulnerable to the unpredictability of life’s challenges.

At times it is easy to believe that we have entered into an age of darkness and hopelessness. We are appalled by humanity’s capacity for violence and exploitation. We despair over the inevitable destruction of our planet and we become distressed by this age of endless conflict and destruction, greed and hypocrisy.

The insecurity born of these feelings can lead us to anger, blame and hostility. In times of such darkness we long for an ideal future to protect us from pain and conflict. It is hard to accept that there is no cure for living.

There is a knack to learning how to live with life’s challenges and hardships, to discover light amid darkness and to heal ourselves and the world around us. One of the first steps we must take is not to turn away from, not to shun the challenges in our lives, but to turn toward them. In turning, we cast away our fears, despair and self-doubt. It is in our greatest difficulties that we find what is everlasting light in the world.

As we enter into this season of “Lent,” let us remember that Jesus constantly met the hypocrisy of his day and turned toward his adversaries with openheartedness and compassion. He died on the cross to “cross out” all suffering. He tasted bitterness. He descended to its very roots to overcome it. Hanging on the cross, Jesus pleads with us “see me, feel for me, feel my pain. I am here because I saw your pain, and had it crucified with me.”

Jesus’ victory over the darkness of this world is our hope. He is the rising sun from heaven. We are his followers, and so must be bearers of light, bringing hope and joy to those who have forgotten the sun.