When The World Feels Dark All Around You

My heart is broken over the violence that took place in a Pittsburgh place of worship this weekend. Such beautiful lives, snuffed out in an instant by hate. Today, it seemed appropriate to revisit a post I wrote more than three years ago. The darkness may not be the same as it was then, but it still feels like it is gaining ground in our world. I needed this reminder that darkness cannot ever destroy Light. Maybe you need the reminder too?

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Once upon a time, there lived a little girl who was afraid of dark things. She would lay in bed at night and start to believe that the shadows cast by giant trees outside her window were actually monsters or knife-wielding kidnappers intent on hurting her. She continually flipped on as many lights in the house as her parents would allow, and she never went into a dark room alone. The shadows terrified her.

She grew up, no longer afraid of dark things around her, but still terribly afraid of the dark things inside of her, inside of other human beings. After all, she thought, that’s where the real darkness lives…isn’t it? She watched images of violence unleashed by terrorists flash across her television screen and read about children dying alone, desperate and starving. She experienced betrayals of the fiercest kind from those she loved the most, and she withered when the only human protector she had ever know gasped his final, shaky breath. She shuddered when she caught glimpses of her own pride and choking shame, of harmful thoughts and desires she couldn’t bear to put into words. The dark things inside felt powerful enough to destroy her, to shatter her tender and innocent soul in a thousand pieces.

But, the Light.

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The Light would not, will not be consumed. The Light “shines in the darkness but the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). That little girl learned to look for the Light when it felt like the darkness was all around, and later she learned to look for the Light when the darkness seemed to bubble up from within. The Light came into the world, but the world didn’t see it. Even so, the Light penetrated the darkness and the darkness scurried away like a cockroach into the shadows. The darkness could not stand the Light.

That Light, on the darkest of days, on days when I don’t understand…that Light brightens my path. When I listen to people speak of donning costumes and collecting buckets full of candy while brothers and sisters are gunned down by darkness, my heart cries and my soul shudders. I cry for the ways in which I, we, have chosen the shadows over the brilliant Light. I shudder when I remember my own darkness, a darkness that I despise but I revel in from time to time anyway. For I “do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). Even so, the Light shines on. In the midst of evil and darkness and heinous crimes wrought by bloodied human hands, the brilliant Light is steady, constant, unchanging. And that Light will not be overcome.

Today, I remember the Light who came into this dark world and heaped all of that pain and brokenness onto himself. I think of those around the world who are staring the darkness down right now…they refuse to relent because they know the Light inside them is stronger than the darkness all around. Today, I repent of living with one foot in the dark and one foot in the Light. I pray for increased confidence in the victory this Light has already won over darkness, the kind of confidence that would bloom and grow until I have no fear of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul (Matthew 10:28). Today, I sit by the Light and yet still weep over the darkness, because Jesus did the same (John 11:1-44). And you know what? That little girl, the one who was so afraid of the dark? Today, she prays for more and more courage, courage that will consume shadows of brokenness and pain with the Light beaming from inside of her.

Today, that girl (who is not so little anymore) wants you to know that whatever darkness is clawing at your coattails…that darkness cannot overcome Light. And maybe, just maybe, you can be a Light-bearer in this dark and broken world too.

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