Seeing in the Dark – Nancy Ortberg

Seeing in the Dark Nancy Ortberg

QUICK HIT: Seeing in the Dark is a musings of a woman through a journey of faith, one of finding the light amid the darkness, one of being that light amid the darkness. Nancy Ortberg shines, taking a sort of ethereal view of the subject matter while still keeping it safely grounded in reality.

I am the light of the world. Jesus said that. You are the light of the world. Jesus said that too. But sometimes the light is so hard to see. Sometimes it’s not as bright, not as overpowering as we’d like. But it remains a truth that a small light does wonders for the deepest darkness. Seeing in the Dark is a musings of a woman through a journey of faith, one of finding the light amid the darkness, one of being that light amid the darkness. The book is structured as a series of short essays. You could easily read one chapter an evening for a two-week devotional. At 117 pages, it’s a quick read to be slowly pondered.

Ortberg weaves in biblical imagery and metaphor, inserting just enough of her own life to provide the book with a unique flavor and voice. The majority of the chapter deal with darkness, but also of finding the light through it. As such, Ortberg hits upon a universal theme—making sense of suffering—and grabs her reader close and doesn’t let go.

Her writing style is lyrical, even poetic at times. She takes a sort of ethereal view of the subject matter while still keeping it safely grounded in reality. The first chapter, Dark Skies, is a good example of this. Ortberg opens up about her own dark moments of not seeing God in her parents’ separation. She draws in biblical themes by noting that almost half the Psalms (a word meaning praise) are actually laments. She dwells on that darkness, then notes that light always comes.

I liked that because she doesn’t downplay the reality of evil and suffering. She doesn’t insist that the struggling Christian put on a joyful face in a hurt filled time for the name of Jesus. She rightly notes that, hey, sometimes darkness is just a thing to get through. Allow yourself to process it, acknowledge it, then get over it in the name of Jesus.

Overall, I think this book is best used in devotional terms. A few minutes of early morning or late night reading, just a way of orienting or reorienting your day, just a way of giving your mind a productive place to wander as you go about your day or your sleep. And though she focuses on the hard times of life—the dark times—Ortberg focuses even more on the light, on finding God in the darkness, in the unexpected places of life. If you are going through a dark place, or know someone who is, this is the book for you.