Summary: When life turns sour, tell yourself the truth, complain to God, and He will deliver. Message focuses on Dylan Thomas’ poem, "Do not go gentle into that good night; rage, rage against the dying of the light."

On a warm spring evening in 1952, at his home in Swansea in Wales, David John Thomas lay on his deathbed. Once a soldier who had fought in the Second World War, later an English teacher, Thomas had become very frail in his later years. There was no doubt that he would die soon. There was no turning back the clock, no remedy for his deterioration. For his son, however, the issue was not only that his father was dying, but also that he was dying too calmly. He was not fighting the inevitable. He was not pushing back against his condition. He seemed simply to accept it. His son found that unthinkable. So the son, poet Dylan Thomas, tried to persuade his dying father to take up arms against this sea of troubles.

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas experienced his father dying calm, indifferent, passive. Some of us experience that spiritually, emotionally. We discover that someone we love just doesn’t care any more. We find out that someone we are connected to has disconnected. Or maybe we feel ourselves that life is hardly worth living any more. The issues we have to face overwhelm us and make us numb. Life has turned sour. Like milk left out too long, life has turned sour, its freshness gone.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you seen someone’s life turned sour? And you just wanted to scream, “Do not go gentle into that good night; rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

A young man wanders the streets aimlessly: no job, no school, no direction, no purpose. Everything he has tried failed, and so what else is there but to get a cheap thrill snatching purses or shoplifting, sitting sullen in the lockup? Life has turned sour, and the sourness turns into anti-social negativity. You want to say, “Do not go there, young man!” But he does not hear.

A young woman endures the taunts of those who are slimmer, trimmer, and richer than she, and feels left out of what the smart set are doing. The snickers behind her back, the arched eyebrows – they could only mean one thing: that she is not one of the privileged few. And so what else is there but to give in to the urge to be intimate, just to have flesh touching, just to embrace a semblance of love? Life has turned sour, and the sourness turns into self-destructive behavior. You want to warn her, “Do not settle for that, young lady!” But she is deaf to that.

A couple, married long ago, and now with an empty nest, find that their banter has turned into bickering and their bickering into insults and disdain. They will tell you that they do love each other, but will quickly qualify that by commenting, “She does drive me crazy” and “He does not listen to me any more.” The marriage bond has turned into a chain. Life has turned sour, and the sourness into an armed camp of ill-disguised hostility. Do not go gentle into that dark night of the soul, good friends, lest you destroy one another; but they are stuck in this horrible habit of mutual sniping. Life has turned sour.

But I went into a hospital room to visit a man I was thought was about to die. His illness was serious and I had run several times to see him in emergency rooms. He had been a member of my church for a long time, but had always been a problem to everyone there. He had been the constant opposition. Whatever we proposed to do, he was against it. Repair and refresh the sanctuary? No, it would cost too much; he was against it. Change the order of worship to include diverse forms of music? No, he was against it; he said he did not want to sing anything that was not in the Baptist Hymnal! Twice divorced, admitting to some one-night stands, sometimes homeless but now rather prosperous, it had become clear that his was a life of opposition. Life had turned sour, and nothing, absolutely nothing, would satisfy him. So I went, expecting another torrent of bitterness.

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