Darkness & Light

Sad.  Lost.  Weary.  Hopeless.  What happens when these words begin to describe us?  What happens when there is a gaping disconnect between what we say is true about life and what we really feel on the inside?  

I feel this tension every day.  Since high school, I’ve experienced what the medical field labels ‘depression.’  Inside me lives a darkness that I can never seem to fully escape.  It haunts me, always waiting to pull me in.  It speaks to me, spinning half-truths that confuse and distort how I see reality.  There are times where it eases up, and times where it feels gone for good.  But sure enough, it always seems to find its way back to me. 

But I'm a counselor and a pastor - how can I be in the work of helping people when I myself am in need of such desperate help?  Am I missing something?  Did I take a wrong turn somewhere along the way that got me far off track? 

While I regularly wrestle with those questions, my everyday interactions with hurting people remind me that I'm not alone.  We all face darkness in our lives in some way.  No one is exempt.  No one is free of struggle.  

There is a deadly misconception that Christians (especially pastors & counselors) should have it all together.  No darkness.  No doubts.  No struggle.  Only happiness, clarity, and contentment - all day, every day.  We should always have out stuff together, and problems in life are only a sign that we’ve messed up something along the way.

When I trek through the scriptures, I see a very different story.  The Bible is a very raw book.  It doesn’t present a neat and tidy picture of life.  It’s honest, real, and wonderfully hopeful to people like me who struggle deeply.  Psalm 42 is one passage that speaks deeply to my soul. 

 As the deer longs for streams of water,
 so I long for you, O God.  I thirst for God, the living God.  When can I go and stand before him?  Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
“Where is this God of yours?”

My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!

Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
 I will put my hope in God!
 I will praise him again - my Savior and my God!  Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
 from the land of Mount Mizar.

I hear the tumult of the raging seas
as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.  But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.

“O God my rock,” I cry,“Why have you forgotten me?
 Why must I wander around in grief,
 oppressed by my enemies?”  Their taunts break my bones.  They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”

Why am I discouraged?
 Why is my heart so sad?
 I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again —
 my Savior and my God!

There are longings. 

There are tears.

There is confusion.

There is discouragement.

There is sadness.

There is darkness.

But there is also light.  There is also hope.  There is also trust.  There is also worship.  

Darkness and light, weeping and worship, heartache and hope – somehow, someway, they’re all here together. 

I wish the darkness would go away in my life.  I fight against it.  I pray against it.  But it's still there.  But I’m thankful to say that there is something else there as well - light.  God is breaking through the darkness, and even using the brokenness to bring healing.  The cross of Jesus reminds me that God has gone to extraoridinary lengths to show that he can be trusted and to show that he is always for me – no matter what I feel and no matter how bleak life appears.  The resurrection of Jesus reminds me that light will have the final word over darkness.  One day, the darkness will be gone forever.  This continues to be my only hope.

Why am I discouraged?
  Why is my heart so sad?
  I will put my hope in God!
   I will praise him again —
 my Savior and my God!