Monday, October 31, 2011

Light After Dark

One of the jobs that comes my way fairly often is to talk with people going through a dark passageway in their life. Again and again these dear souls have apologized to me for feeling the way they do. I try to assure them that these kind of passageways are a normal part of being a human being. Some of the most amazing people who have ever lived on this planet had their own "dark night of the soul." Included in that list are people like C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, and Mother Teresa: it seems that even those with great spiritual maturity face these times in their lives.

I recall a conversation with my own Father about such a time for him. He described his feelings of anger, sadness, confusion, and hopelessness. His great challenge was not that he did not believe in God but like Job, he did believe in God and could not understand why God would let him suffer the way he was suffering. It was a very painful journey but after a time the darkness of his grief began to fade and the light of God's love was shining again in his heart. His faith was even deeper and stronger on the other side of this hard journey.

Martin Luther had a period of great despair which he wrote about in 1527. His prayers seemed pointless, he said. God seemed silent and distant and unconcerned with his pain. Some of his friends were so concerned about him they thought that he might not survive and feared for his life. It was bad. Very bad. But somehow the darkness did not overwhelm him. In fact, he wrote a hymn during this time - one of the greatest hymns of the church: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. It is an old hymn so you may not know the words - here are some of them.

"A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing ..."

There are things in life that we do not get over - we simply must go through them. What I know now from my own experience with God is that I will never have to make that journey alone because he will go with me.

Remember: God is not afraid of the dark and when we pass through those dark places in our lives and are gripped by fear, God is not. God is not afraid of our questions, our grief or our doubts.

"God is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 91:2

A received a note not long ago from a person I had talked with, listened to, and prayed with during a very difficult time for them. The note said, "I have found God's "Yes", even after what seemed like nothing but "No" everyday."

So good to hear!

Just thinking, Steve Yates

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