Light at the End of the Tunnel

Remove sunglasses. Turn lights on. Stay in lane.

As the tunnel entrance swallowed our car, I could hear our daughters in the back seat inhaling huge gulps of air, then becoming quiet as they held their breath until we exited into the bright sunshine at the other end, 4,380 feet later. Ah-h-h. Their relief and laughter all mixed together made me smile. I still think of their antics every time I travel on the northeast extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. 

And yet, I’m not too fond of the tunnel experience. I feel closed in and find myself gripping the wheel a little tighter, allowing plenty of space between my front end and the tail lights of the car in front of me. And always, my eyes search for the light at the end.

The expression, “light at the end of the tunnel,” dates back to the 1800s. By now a cliché, it still captures the idea that there’s an end to a difficult situation or task or even a worthwhile project. We’re moving toward a place that will bring relief and allow us to breathe a little freer. The anticipated reward keeps us motivated to stay in our lane and keep moving forward.

Some tunnel experiences seem short and others drag on for much longer. At times, we think we’re close to finishing our journey in the dark only to find that the light seems to keep moving ahead, beyond our ability to exit in the time we expected. We may feel hemmed in by the darkness as we watch others whizzing past us in the other lane. Whether we’re facing an illness, a financial crisis, a season of stress, or enduring the hum-drum of the everyday, in each case, we find relief and joy when we see the end in sight.

Based on what Christ has done for us on the cross, we have a glorious hope ahead of us. How tempting to resign ourselves to a limited tunnel-bound perspective, a near-sighted focus that swallows us up in the dimness of our circumstances. How much better to also look beyond and ahead. The best is yet to come!


The apostle John describes our eternal destiny this way: “[God] will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).


We don’t have to be like a driver lost in a long, dark tunnel. Look ahead! This is our hope. No matter where we find ourselves in the ordinary rhythms of our life stories, let’s keep our eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel—the bright, happily-ever-after ending to our story. And we don’t have to hold our breath. God promises His precious presence and His extraordinary grace all the way to the end.

Sarah Lynn Phillips

Sarah Lynn Phillips shares the inspiring story of her family’s near-fatal car crash in her award-winning book, Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story. For individual or group study, she has also written a companion Leader’s Guide with reproducible study sheets. Her articles, devotions, and poems have appeared in numerous online and print publications. Through her writing and speaking, Sarah offers a vision of hope in the hard times. She has three adult daughters and three delightful grandsons. Reading, quilting, and tending her garden are among Sarah’s hobbies.

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