It's been a really hard week so far. Really dark. I don't know if any of you ever experience darkness, but I do...more often than I'd like. And honestly, way more often than I'd like to admit. That's the thing, isn't it? We love to give testimonies of wonderful things God has done, and how He has answered our prayers. We love to feel God's presence and sing about it and tell about it and enjoy it. All of this is great, and good, and needed. But we rarely talk about the times when we don't feel His presence. Times where it feels like the lights have been turned off and we are left alone in our misery. Sometimes it is physical pain. So many of us who love God and believe He heals suffer with relentless pain. We cry out, we wonder why He isn't answering our cries...and we choose to go on believing that He does heal...and maybe He will heal us some day.
There are other forms of darkness...darkness in the mind. It sneaks up on me out of nowhere...like a storm front coming at us from the west on an otherwise sunny day. Surely it won't land here. There are blue skies and warm sunshine. When the dark cloud comes it feels like such a betrayal. And even though I know the thoughts I'm having aren't really my thoughts, they plummet me..."Maybe I have mental illness. Maybe I will never see the sun again." Dark thoughts that rain down on me and soak me in pain and self-pity. "God, I need you!!! Where are you???"
I think of a technique I saw on some nanny show...where the parents are trying to get their kids to sleep in their beds, to feel secure enough to fall asleep on their own. She has one of the parents sit on the floor of the child's room, in the dark, facing the door. The child is in her crib crying...often screaming...and the parent is to just sit there. The child knows the parent is near. She isn't particularly happy that Daddy isn't picking her up and getting her out of bed. But...ultimately she knows Daddy is near. And after a lot of crying and not getting the results she wants, she finally falls asleep. After a night or two of this training, the child is able to be put to bed in the dark room with little or no fussing.
Over the years, through many seasons of darkness...physical and emotional darkness and pain...God has shown me that He is with me. It may be dark, and I may be crying out and definitely not at all happy with my situation...but He is here with me. I know that now with certainty. I also know that while I don't understand yet...He is training me for something. So in the midst of the darkness, I no longer fear that He has left me alone, or that He doesn't exist.
I still don't like the dark. But I am no longer afraid. It makes all the difference...