Even the Darkness

If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. Psalm 139:11-12

There are times when I’ve wished for complete darkness. When I’ve been forced downstairs to the couch in search of sleep, I realize how bright the night is in my house. The glowing numerals of the oven clock and the piercing blue light emanating from the Internet router silently intrude. And what about the neighbor’s flood light that seems to be on 24/7, shining right into my back windows? Upstairs I’ve solved the problem with blackout curtains. At least in my bedroom I can eliminate almost all sources of light.

As a child I was afraid of the dark, afraid that something sinister lurked under my bed just waiting to grab the stray toe hanging off the edge. But as an adult there’s a different kind of darkness, not literal, but just as scary. It’s one no one seeks and can descend upon us at any time. An uninvited blackout that clouds our hearts and brings despair.

Sometimes this kind of darkness is our own doing. And sometimes it comes as a result of unexpected trials or sickness. When I was deep into chemotherapy, each day seemed like the same long slog. When I looked in the mirror I just saw utter exhaustion. All I could do was tell myself that maybe tomorrow I’d feel better. One night I dragged myself to my chair in the bedroom hoping to live stream a concert featuring an old college friend. I thought it would bring light and hope, but I didn’t even have the energy to try to log on.

It was in those moments where I saw no light and tricked myself into believing the next day would be better and brighter. Was it? Sometimes. But just as often it wasn’t. One day I received an unexpected message from an acquaintance who had battled cancer. He said it can very lonely. Indeed. This kind of darkness was very lonely.

It doesn’t matter how you find your way into darkness. You may be suffering with chronic pain. You may have succumbed to the same sin over and over and now realize you’ve backed yourself into a dark corner with no conceivable way out. You may just be under a heavy cloud of despair, unsure where it’s come from. Whatever it is, wherever it’s come from, you can take courage that God sees your situation from a different perspective. He sees through the darkness and he sees you. The lack of light in your situation doesn’t hinder God’s eyesight. It has no bearing whatsoever. Nothing is hidden from him. He can see right to the bottom of your circumstances and into the depths of your heart.

He also understands the loneliness and despair darkness can bring. How can I say that? Consider this: the God of Psalm 139, for whom nothing is dark, sent his only Son to the Cross to experience the ultimate darkness. In pouring out his wrath on Christ, the Father turned his face away. This kind of darkness is described in Psalm 88 and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jesus had these words in mind as he experienced the loneliness of the crucifixion: “You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.” Psalm 88:18 The One whom John called “the true light” experienced the darkness of separation from his Father for our sakes, for our salvation.

We’re afraid of the darkness because of what we can’t see, because of how it makes us feel lost and lonely. But God is never blind and never lost. There is nothing blocking his vision. He knows exactly where we are and the path we’re taking. And Jesus experienced a greater darkness so we would forever live in his light. So remember and take heart that even in our greatest darkness, God sees us and God cares. It cannot hinder him and will never separate us from his love.

Trust him, even in the darkness.

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