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June 22, 2017

When Life Goes Dark

What do you do when you find yourself suddenly in the dark? The lights go out and you're caught off guard. You're home alone, your phone is dead, and you're left to find your way around based on what you know about your home. Of course you rely on your memory of where things are: where they were in the light before it was dark. You rely on your knowledge of what was true when there was plenty of light to see by. 

So you stumble to your bedroom and feel for your bed, not worrying that maybe it's suddenly disappeared. And you lie down because it's safe and reliable, not afraid that it won't catch you this time even though it has every other time before. You also probably weren't worrying that it might have disappeared between the time you felt it and the moment you fell onto it simply because you can't see it.

You know that everything that was there in your home in the light—your clothes, your books, your prized possessions, everything—is still there even though you can't see them now. You have the proof of past experiences to boost your confidence, you know without even thinking about it that no one has broken in and taken your things since the lights went out, and you have faith that they have gone nowhere even though you can't see them right now.

You're also not wondering if, now that everything's dark, maybe you just imagined your clothes and books and prized possessions. You're not thinking that maybe you never even had a house to begin with. And you're definitely not thinking that maybe there never was this thing called "light."

We know better. We know nothing has really changed and that all darkness is temporary.

So why do we fear the worst about God when we come to a place of darkness? 

We have the knowledge that He was there in the light, we have the proof of past experiences of Him to boost our confidence, and we know no one and nothing is capable of hiding Him or much less taking Him away from us. And yet when life reaches a dark valley, our human instinct is fear and worry. Fear and worry that God has forsaken us, that He's mad at us, that He's preoccupied with other more important people or better Christians, or maybe that He simply doesn't care. That He has abandoned us in this place of suffering. Or maybe that He was never there at all.

And we find ourselves in this position of fear because darkness leaves us without simple proof of what we once knew so easily; it's easy to assume the best and trust what you cannot see with your own eyes when there's plenty of light to see everything else by. But darkness brings us face-to-face with the one supremely vital key for overcoming that fear: faith—believing in what you cannot see but what you know to be true. Even if at this point the darkness is so deep and the pain and suffering is so loud that you can neither feel nor hear the God you knew in the light.

Why do we do this? Why do we never doubt our beds' or possessions' continuing, unchanging existence when we cannot see them but err on the side of doubt when it comes to God? I think it's, simply, we all know that the value of possessions cannot be compared with the value of relationship with our God. And in the dark, we fear the loss of the most important thing in the world the most. We are mere humans with a tie to the God of the universe, and at the slightest hint that that tie could be threatened, we lose all sense of what we know is true out of fear of what is not.

And, as we are but human, that is understandable, in theory. But the theory is obliterated with one darkness-shrinking, fear-conquering, worry-soothing promise: 

And "never" has only the one meaning.

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