Joy in the Darkness

People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness. They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God.
Henri J.M. Nouwen, Return of the Prodigal Son

I read this quote from Henri Nouwen this morning. His words hit home with me and the journey I have been on for the past few years.

One of the biggest obstacles I have had to overcome in my own Christian walk is acknowledging the darkness, and not becoming overwhelmed by it.

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

Why do children get abused and abandoned by the parents who were supposed to give them love?

How can I listen the cries at work of a heartbroken child wanting her Daddy to come get her and not feel overwhelmed by the emptiness and desperation I hear in her voice?

How can a father abandon his child?

What do I do with the news that a neighbor just down the street took a gun and killed his mother, child and then turned it on himself.

So much darkness, death, and despair.

The darkness creeps into my mind.

It wants to take over.

I struggle to find the light of hope.

Social media is full of memes and statements from friends who encourage positive thinking and pious platitudes meant to inspire and keep us looking up.

They only cause me to feel more darkness.

I will not pretend the darkness is not there. As horrible as feeling it’s pain is, it also let’s me know that I am still alive and part of the human race. My own pain has caused me to want to lock myself away in denial. To never look back at all the darkness that has taken place in my own life. But everytime I try to it feels like the lid of a casket coming down. There has to be a way to live in this world of darkness without being overwhelmed or living in denial.

As Nouwen says, the joy of the Lord is what causes us to look for the light when the darkness of the world creeps in.

We are not alone.

We are loved by a God who is kind.

A God who redeems and restores.

A God who transforms the darkness into light.

Sometimes I can’t see Him.

Sometimes I have to walk in the darkness feeling my way through looking for the light.

Sometimes I get lost and Jesus finds me.

But He never leaves us alone even when we choose darkness over the light.

He is a good Father.

Today, I’m thankful for those people in my life who continue to point me to the flashes of light of His love that shines through the brokenness of our lives. Thankful for those who walk through the darkness with me and let me know that I am not alone. You are flashes of light along the way. You are proof that although this world gets really dark, that darkness will not overcome the light of His love.

There is no suggestion at all that these signs of the world’s darkness will ever be absent. But still, God’s joy can be ours in the midst of it all. It is the joy of belonging to the household of God whose love is stronger than death and who empowers us to be in the world while already belonging to the kingdom of joy.

Henri Nouwen, Return of the Prodigal Son

2 thoughts on “Joy in the Darkness

  1. As always, I so appreciate your honest sharing of how you are feeling right now. So much in the world leads us to deny our true feelings, market “perfect” lives, and live in denial of our past. I think Jung said that we need to visit the past but not set up shop there. I think for those of us who have survived trauma, we live two different lives and the goal of therapy is to integrate the parallel lives together. Ugh. It takes time to do so, and I love how you consistently remind me to look to Jesus for light, sustenance, and healing. I’m my own darkness (chronic back pain) and need the reminder that this will pass, not to give into the despair that waits at the door like a little dog. It’s amazing to me, but I actually feel more joy now that I have felt before and I have various health issues now, more than I have before. I think of the verse “Outwardly we are wasting away, but inwardly we are becoming more and more like Christ each day.” You are right – Jesus will never leave us and is here to help us every step of the way. Love to you, friend! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Two different lives is a really good description of what it feels like being a trauma survivor. Integrating the two worlds is definitely a challenge and a process! I appreciate your insight and encouragement. It means so much. I pray you find relief from your back pain. That’s tough! Much love back to you! XX

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