You know how on a cave tour, the guide always turns out the lights to show you what absolute darkness looks like? You can’t see your hand in front of your face. Opening and closing your eyes makes no difference. You slide your foot slowly over the ground to bump your friend or partner next to you to make sure you aren’t alone. You stand in utter and complete darkness.
It seems some of us have found ourselves there again, haven’t we? It’s been a year. A dark one. When will the lights come back on?
The lights went out on many of our circumstances: success, health, security, all the right things on paper. This is the place we’ve feared and purposefully avoided. Now we huddle in the darkness without comfort to see or be seen. The beauty of heaven seems far off. The darkness is so complete, we get lost in it.
Maybe we start to feel God has abandoned us, forsaken us like when Jesus called out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Psalm 22:1). We ask ourselves why He has left us all alone without answer to our calls for help.
What is the darkness you’ve found yourself in? We’ve all got it. May as well name it. Sickness, depression, anxiety, loneliness, exhaustion? Or is it sneakier: overwhelm, apathy, bitterness?
Can we give ourselves permission to sit here in the darkness a while and explore it? It is Black Saturday, after all. Easter isn’t until tomorrow. So let’s sit here a bit.
It’s unravelling, sitting in the darkness, bringing all our deepest fears to life, even if only in our heads.
Take a breath. Now take another. And another. Start to breathe again, not frantically as before, but slowly. One inhale and one exhale at a time. Feel the air entering your lungs and the tension leaving your body as you let it out.
Close your eyes (we’re sitting in the darkness anyway). Open yourself up to something else. Do you feel it?
You know what the cave tour guide forgot? The entire spectrum of light.
In the cave, we looked so desperately for light that we forgot to FEEL it. Did you forget to feel it too? The temperature of a cave doesn’t really fluctuate, not like out here in the open. Infrared light (heat) is just as much light as the visible spectrum and it was all around us when the lights went out. We were never in absolute darkness. There’s no such thing.
Maybe we need to stop looking with our eyes at our circumstance. Not to avoid it, but to discover if there’s something else in our midst. Perhaps we aren’t as alone as we think.
Speak God’s name into your darkness and see if you feel the warmth of His presence overtake you. Jesus. Emmanuel. God with us. Close your eyes and look with your heart. And like in the cave, we start to realize He has been here the whole time, in the midst of the black.
We didn’t recognize Him because He didn’t show up as we expected. As we demanded.
God doesn’t leave us in our dark nights. We just forget about the other side of His light: the peace of it in our chaos, beauty in the still simmering ashes. It’s not something we can see outwardly. Faith is sometimes shaky like that.
As we stop resisting circumstance and become enveloped in Him, within the darkness, we enter another kind of light. Peace. Goodness. Mercy. Perseverance. Hope.
These things are as much in darkness as they are in light.
I hope the daylight finds you. I hope you see a glorious sunrise. Until then, may you rest in His Shalom and know that you are not alone. Easter is coming. Hold on.
(Shalom is a Hebrew word representing supernatural peace and harmony, well-being and completeness.)
John 1:4-5 “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Psalm 139:11-12 “If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”