Living in the Dark

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens you are there; If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 

If I say “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light becomes night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

Psalm 139:7-12

My grandma was one of the great women in my life. I loved staying at her house. 

Once I got older, there was a spare room in the back of my grandparents house that I would sleep in. That room was pitch black at night. I remember holding my hand up in front of my face and I couldn’t even see it. I strained my eyes to catch even a glimpse of the outline of my hand but I couldn’t see it. 

Life can feel like that sometimes, straining in the dark to see something, to see anything. This past year has felt that way.  It has been hard to even find the outline of the things that have been familiar in my life. In that dark, spare bedroom my hand still existed even though I couldn’t see it in front of me. And still there are many things that still exist in front of me today, even though I haven’t been able to see them lately. 

Up until now I would fight the darkness. I would hustle as much as I could to get out of it and back into the light. It hasn’t been that easy this time around. So, I am learning how to settle in. 

You see, I believe the common denominator in many of us is we walk through dark times ashamed and alone. We think we have to hide it, pretend we are okay when we are not. Survive it so we can get back to life again. I recently read this quote from Ann Voskamp and it resonated with me: “Not one thing in life is more important than figuring out how to live in the face of unspoken pain.”

How do we learn to live in the dark? How do we learn to live in the face of unspoken pain?

I believe it could be about flipping a switch. Instead of striving to get out as quickly as we can, we embrace it. The darkness isn’t permanent, it is temporary and it has something to teach us.

God is in the darkness. 

You just have to look closely. Just because you can’t see his hand doesn’t mean his hand is not there. God is everywhere which means he is in the darkness with you and He is in the darkness with me. 

We are familiar with this rhythm in creation. The sun sets and darkness falls. The sun rises, bringing the light of a new day. But, we resist this rhythm in our lives, always wanting to live in the daylight.

Does God only exist during the day, then? Is he only real when the sun is up and we can see clearly. No. God exists at night too. God exists in the dark. 

But, somehow we are led to believe that God only exists in the good and he can’t be a part of the bad or the hard. Why would a good God do that? 

“Who knows why God allows heartbreak but the answer must be important enough because God allows His heart to break too.” AV

I’ve been reading about the life of David in the Bible. He wrote Psalm 139 and had every reason to write something like that. His story is filled with disappointment, betrayal, unfairness but yet he knew that when he had no one else to turn to, God was there. He had proven himself to be there for David time and time again and David trusted in him. 

There was nothing that could separate him from God. Because of that trust, the darkness felt like light. It didn’t mean David was not in the dark, it meant that the very presence of God made the darkness livable for him. He surrendered to the dark. The darkness could have been the place where his greatness was born. Maybe the reason that he is mentioned in the age old Scriptures is because he learned how to exist in the dark, with God. 

While we wait in the dark, God can build something new. It’s a time of surrender. Wounds and heartache can produce surrender but surrender is a choice.

Surrender is about acceptance. It’s about openness and awareness. It’s realizing that each experience can be a lesson, an opportunity, a place to create something new. A space to be made new. It’s an acceptance that pain is a part of life. At some point in our life we have to face darkness. Will we sit in the darkness to allow that darkness to become the catalyst for change, for growth, for new beginnings? I’m not sure, but I do know that I’m learning to live in the dark and in that place, I am finding hope because I have found God there.

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photocred:@mollyvandeman