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The Upper Room devotional reflection for Thursday, February 9, 2023, was written by Øystein Brinch of Oslo, Norway.

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.“ 13 Then the Pharisees said to him, "You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.“ 14 Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.15 You judge by human standards; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. 18 I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.“ 19 Then they said to him, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also."

John 8:12-19 NRSV



On Christmas Day, 2020, I was sitting in my friend’s living room in Tønsberg, Norway, looking at the old watchtower on top of Fortress Hill. Churches were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I had not seen my children and grandchildren since March, and I felt lonely and sorry for myself – in spite of being with my friend. To my surprise, I noticed that on top of the tower a large cross spread its light over all the town. I sensed new feelings within me, as if my gloomy thoughts and self-pity must yield to the light from the cross. Jesus told us he is the light of the world. And in that moment, it was as if Jesus was assuring me, “You are never alone as long as I am with you, and I have not and will never forsake you. Darkness will give way to dawn. Wait and see.” I rested my eyes on the cross that shined light not only over the town but in my heat as well – and I was comforted.



5 As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Joshua 1:5b-6a NRSV

From time to time, many of us have had seasons where it felt like God was so distant from us, that we felt abandoned. In those lonely moments, we were faced with a decision: We could trust that God was still with us or believe that God had abandoned us? When we choose to believe that God remains with us, even when God’s presence is not readily felt, it deepens our faith allowing us to experience blessed peace. I invite you to rest secured in the knowledge that God is always with you, so that you may be “strong and courageous,” despite your challenges.

-Pastor Anthony


Dear God, Thank you for your light in the world and in our lives. Thank you for your love that never leaves us alone. Amen.

- Øystein Brinch


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