We have Hope, to carry through the darkest night. Our God has overcome the fear inside.
These lyrics from Pittsburgh East Community Church's worship album (You Have My Heart -Amplify) have really been burrowing their way to the core of my heart.
I grew up in the city. Street lights, building lights, headlights...there is just a glowing all the time. You can't really see stars because it is just that light outside. When I moved to Uganda, I lived in a village, in the middle of ACTUAL nowhere! When I first got there, we didn't even have electricity. My house was one of the last to get A light inside of it and it was so temperamental that I usually used my lanterns and flashlights a majority of the time. I would walk back and forth to my sweet friend Sophie's house constantly...and at night, it was pitch black. I have never experienced the kind of darkness that your eyes never adjust to. It was remarkable really. There were many nights where one of the kids from the orphanage that we lived at would have borrowed my flashlight to use to study or I was out of matches and couldn't light my lantern and would need to either walk to Sophie's or home from Sophie's. It was complete darkness. I had walked the path many times with the light in my hand, so I could estimate when to turn, how many steps to take, but it was terrifying sometimes. From Sophie's house, I would walk through her grassy yard, then onto a stony dirt road, then through a small corn field, out of there onto another a small dirt road and then on a path that headed to my own house. The little corn field was the worst part for me. I would picture me actually stepping over a black mamba or a python. Sometimes a corn stalk would slap me in the face. But you know what, I prayed for safety and courage as I walked like I'd never prayed before on those short walks in the darkest of night. I had walked this path hundreds of times. I knew what to feel for with my feet, I knew when to reach out my hands to avoid certain potential road blocks. I had walked the path with light guiding me many time...so really, I was as prepared as I could be. But the fear was sometimes still terrifying. Being without light like that, in the darkest of the dark, what choices did I have? I could be swallowed up...or I could choose to walk on in bravery, because God was with me.
Now, that story makes me sound a lot more courageous than I actually was. But every time I hear "the darkest night" I think of those dark Ugandan nights! (You know exactly what I mean right Sophie and Adam???) And I also think of our "darkest nights" here...what those look like for me and for others.
Maybe it is...
the woman struggling with her body image so severely that she can hardly take a breath without feeling inadequate.
the man struggle with an alcohol problem.
the woman who is living with an abusive man who she loves and doesn't know what to do.
the woman who is fighting to forgive her husbands unfaithfulness.
the couple who is fighting and screaming all the time in front of their children.
the man that is entrapped in pornography.
the orphan with no family, who watched them all be taken from them.
the person flooded with pain from a divorce, rape, loss of a child, or past mistakes.
the woman who with holds her true self from everyone because she has bitterness and anger taking over her life.
maybe its the person who thinks they are so much better than all of these things that they would never find themselves in this kind of darkness.
Some of us have been in so many of these places, some have been in none of them. But that darkness, that powerful absence of light, it comes for us. It can be paralyzing, terrifying, humiliating, swallow us whole...imagine yourself in one of the above places for a moment...imagine...
But...it doesn't end there.
We have HOPE to carry through the DARKEST NIGHT. We have it. It is ours. All we have to do is pick it up and carry it with us. We have to reach out and accept the light. We have to take that courageous step and grab it, and hold on to it and never let it go. We can't give up just because we can't find it right this second. We have to take the step, walk toward it, trust that this Hope, will carry us, just as He promised us. But we cannot carry His hope if we will not reach out and grab on to Him.
I have been taking this idea a little further in my own heart. I have been think about what these dark nights would look like if I really prepared myself for them. What if I was constantly reading Gods word and filling myself with His amazing and perfect tools, weapons, and armor to withstand and overcome the darkest nights. At my fingertips, I would have Him...leading me and guiding every footstep. I would become so used to trusting that He was there (which He always is) that I wouldn't even have to go through that initial panic that I was all alone in the dark. I would KNOW all of His promises and I would believe them. His power and might would overcome my darkest nights...
He is a God who wants to not only allow us to carry His Hope through the darkest nights, but wants us to seek Him so deeply that we allow Him to carry US through the darkest of nights...
Today, I'm working on trusting that He even wants to do this for me....its a process, but His light is so life giving and so empowering and so life changing, that I truly want nothing more than to be overflowing with Him...because THIS LOVE IS UNSTOPPABLE.