Updated: Dec 15, 2019
Do you sleep with a night light? Do you keep just a glimmer of light on when the rest of the lights go out?
I do. I leave a soft light on in my family room, a small light in the hallway upstairs, and a night light in the bathroom beside my bed. I have my reasons. I don’t want to turn on the harsh overhead light in the bathroom during the night; I don’t want my kids to be afraid if they get up after bedtime; I don’t want to step on the Legos in the floor when I wake up early in the morning. Oh, and I hate the dark. It is not that I am afraid of the dark. I simply hate the quality of darkness. Recently, I have been walking with a friend through a difficult section of life. She repeatedly refers to her current struggle as a season of darkness. What an apt description of the times when we cannot see a purpose or when we cannot determine the next step or when our eyes are clenched tightly shut due to the pain we feel. Or when we cannot find God in the midst of our current circumstances. It feels so very dark. St John of the Cross calls this the dark night of the soul. I know this place. This place of suffering and pain that cannot be fully explained outside of, perhaps, being referred to as darkness. I recognize that often our mortal bodies need support through counseling, medications, activity, and other therapies - depending on the circumstances - but faith does play a role. Faith is choosing to believe what you cannot fully comprehend. In the darkness, when you can’t even see your own hand, faith is choosing to open your eyes and believe that God is still there. In the midst of Katie’s most intense suffering and, therefore, my most intense darkness, I would cry out to God to show himself. As I drove the long, quiet stretch of road en route to Cincinnati, I would yell out through the front windshield, “Show up, God!! Just show up!!” I imagine the people on the road with me were taken back by this woman with a buzz haircut, screaming and crying while driving alone in the car beside them. Eyes wide open, trying to believe that He was still there. “Just show up, God!” Faith believes that God is there when the night comes and he is the only one who can bring the light back. I found the notes below in my journal. Sometimes it helps a great deal simply to know that you are not the only who has experienced profound darkness and that there is light to be found. Psalm 36:5-9 Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, Your justice like the great deep. O Lord, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men Find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; You give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; In your light we see light. I love this verse. In your light we see light. There is so much hope in that verse. Sometimes, like King David, I cry out that the light around me is becoming dark and what used to be day is becoming night. I feel lost and hidden in this darkness – this pain, this grief, this sadness, this anxiety, this anger, this fear, this anguish, this world. This darkness. But, God, even the darkness will not be dark to you. Even when I feel encapsulated by this darkness, you will not. For darkness is as light to you. The night will shine like the day (Psalm 139:11-12) You still see me even when I can’t see anything. And because you are the true light that gives light (John 1:9), I can have hope. I can find you in the darkness. I can lean into you and your light.
Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. Do not gloat over me, my enemy. Though I have fallen, I will rise. (Micah 7:8)