The Good We Find in the Darkness {Linkup}

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I can’t sleep without white noise. Whether it’s a fan, air purifier or an app on my phone, I need that gentle hum to lull me into oblivion.

My husband travels several times a year for work, and when he’s gone I turn the noise up a notch. Every sound in the house except for that air purifier sends me into a panic.

I check the locks on the doors three or four times. I stand by the kids’ bedroom doors to make sure they’re asleep. I pace the house wondering, mind racing on overtime.

Was that a mouse in our attic? Was it a squirrel? Or was it an intruder looking for a way inside?

We live in a fairly safe neighborhood. But it only takes an hour of drama on Netflix or the latest news story to send me into high-anxiety mode.

There’s something about the darkness that makes us uncomfortable, isn’t there?

We fear what’s lurking in the shadows. We like the awareness the light brings- a sense of control, knowing what surrounds us and even what threatens us.

Recently, my family entered circumstances where the darkness was thick. I wasn’t just uncomfortable. I was on my knees in panic.

I wasn’t interested in seeing what God was trying to reveal to me through the pain or whether there was a reason for it. I wanted it to go away- period.

When I read the story of creation, I always find it interesting how God didn’t remove the darkness to create the light. Although he had the authority to do so, he didn’t expel it once and for all when he said, “Let there be light.”

No, he separated the two. It’s as though there was some plan, some purpose behind it.

Then, fast-forward a couple of thousand years and we meet Jesus- the One who calls himself The Light. He tells us in John that those who follow Him will never walk in darkness. (John 8:12)

And yet, he doesn’t banish the darkness either.

 As a matter of fact, there are situations where he allows it to enter the lives of those who walk with Him.

Don’t believe me? Look at the story of Lazarus.

When Martha sends word that her brother is dying, Jesus is only one day’s walk away. But he waits. And he doesn’t wait because he’s disillusioned about the situation. No, he has a purpose to his delay.

This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.

John 11:4 NIV

 Sometimes God allows the darkness so that his Light can be magnified.

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It isn’t because he doesn’t care. He isn’t sitting on his throne, removed from our situation like he’s playing some video game. He weeps for us. (John 11:35)

He doesn’t just hurt when we hurt. As I read in a recent devotion, he hurts because we hurt.

Could Jesus have prevented Lazarus from dying altogether? Absolutely. Mary and Martha know this, and it is one of the first things they say to him when he arrives. They don’t yet see the reason for his delay. So what good comes out of his death? We see it as the story concludes.

Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

John 11:45 NIV

Like those who were with Jesus when he arrived at Lazarus’ tomb, I eventually saw that the darkness my family was walking through had a purpose. But I had to stick around and face it. I had to expect God to show up.

And do you know what? He did. In ways I never could have imagined, he showed me he was working.

Friend, I don’t know what darkness you’re walking through today. You may be running that air purifier, trying to avoid its overwhelming presence in your life.

But can I tell you something? God can use it. He can walk with you through it and magnify his Light in the middle of it.

Sometimes we just have to turn off the noise and face it.

 

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Where Do We Find Hope When Darkness Overwhelms?

where do we find hope

I’ve never witnessed someone cross through the thin veil which separates this life from the next. When I listen to others describe it, I’m always filled with awe.

What was it like? Did angels lead the way into the Light which never fades? Was there hesitation or was it impossible to resist the pull of a place with no tears, shame or regret?

When tragedy hits, the questions abound. And there is an ache for a world where suffering and evil don’t knock us off our feet. A longing for a place we can’t see yet, but fills us with a hope that carries us when the load crushes.

This week, our community suffered a great loss. A family is grieving for little girl whose life on this earth was too short.

And as the questions play on repeat, I’m reminded how little I know.

I don’t know why some prayers for healing are answered and some aren’t.

I don’t know why one child suffers and another is saved by medicine or the supernatural.

I don’t know why girls are left motherless at an age when a mother’s touch is like air in the lungs.

I know little, and although I’m being transformed, perhaps that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Perhaps in some ways, knowledge does not equate with power.

We live in a world fallen far from the Eden where we once enjoyed complete, unblemished communion with God. And we have knowledge of more than God ever intended.

We know good from evil. And to be honest, sometimes that knowledge levels us, doesn’t it? Our heightened awareness of the darkness around us leaves us searching for something sure, unwavering and true.

clouds and trees

When trouble and hardship come, we often forget where our anchor lies. I know I do. And the other day, as I sat swaying and flipping through my Bible, my eyes landed on 1 Peter.

Peter is writing to a church who is discouraged. They are being persecuted and ridiculed for their faith, and they need encouragement.

As I read through the first chapter, one word jumped off the page: living.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…

 1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV (emphasis mine)

It was a single word I’d passed over time and time again, but it struck me in a way that left my eyes wet and my hands trembling as I ran my finger over the black and white.

We hope because Jesus is more than black and white in a book. The blood that courses through our veins filled his.

We hope because he left his place in heaven and chose to become dusty and dirty with us, walking with the afflicted and the poor. And then he took the darkness which threatens to consume us on himself.

All of it.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

 Matthew 27:26 NIV

We don’t ever have to ask the haunting question Jesus screamed on the cross. When we rail against the hurt and the unknown, we can rest assured that he when he said, “It is finished,” he meant it.

This hope is living because he is living. Living to intercede. Living to comfort in the moments when life overwhelms.

He breathes life in the gap between this life and the next. He breathes life in the unknown. He is there.

And when the questions don’t stop or the answers don’t come, his grace still fills the empty spaces.

 

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