These are dreary days, and although the sun and warmth have returned to this part of the country, (don’t get me wrong I love the sunshine!) – this pandemic often colours my days. They seem unending and dark. Are you tiring of this? Are you weary? Me too. No hugs from our families and friends, no sleepovers with our grandchildren. You name it, fill in the blanks.
Life upended. Flipped. And so we refashion, redesign our days, make new routines. Remake our lives as best we can. Still, the darkness persists.
Seasons of darkness
As I read this article by Scott Hubbard, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/when-joy-feels-far-away it was profound and meaningful to me. In it he says this:
And this is the reality for many of us now. This pandemic has changed everything. With hearts crying out, we turn our eyes upon Jesus. Focus on who He is and who we are in Him. Chosen, accepted, loved. There is joy in that for sure.
But sometimes the darkness presses in, our hearts grow weary. And sometimes joy feels like a distant cousin and not a close friend. We want relief. Answers. Freedom to be together. Return to our jobs, or find a job. And so on…
We. Want. This. To. Be. Over.
We are not alone
And yet, can we find ease in Hubbard’s statement? That “that seasons of darkness are normal for God’s people.” We are not alone. “The darkness, agonizing as it can feel, is a shared darkness.”
This why we need one another. On this journey, through valleys with rocks that we stumble over, and up and over the rough terrain of mountains, in the midst of this pandemic, what can we do? Perhaps we can be burden bearers. We can be encouragers.
Did you know that there are 100 ‘one another’ statements in the New Testament and that at least half of those are directions for the way we are to treat each other?
When the days are bleak—might we reach out? Follow these instructions:
Encourage and build up one another (1 Th 5:11)
Bear one another’s burdens (Ga 6:2)
Comfort one another concerning the resurrection (1 Th 4:18)
Encourage and build up one another (1 Th 5:11)
Stimulate one another to love and good deeds (He 10:24)
Pray for one another (Jas 5:16)
Be at peace with one another (Mk 9:50)
Gently, patiently tolerate one another (Ep 4:2)
Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to one another (Ep 4:32)
Love one another (John 13:34, 15:12, 17; Ro 13:8)
Through love, serve one another (Ga 5:13).
Might we be heart’s ease for one another? May we point one another to Jesus, to His presence with us?
I think of this verse too, Psalm 57:1—“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by.” Shadow infers darkness doesn’t it. It’s a jolting thought. This shadow may in some mysterious way hold refuge, indeed, may reveal the presence of God. In the midst of the darkness, God is there. He has not left us, will never leave us.
The Horse and His Boy
We find a beautiful example of this in C. S. Lewis’s book, “The Horse and His Boy,” we find Shasta alone and feeling sad because of all the misfortunes that have come his way. In all his despair, Aslan comes to him.
“And being very tired and having nothing inside him, (Shasta) felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks.
What put a stop to all of this was a sudden fright. Shasta discovered that someone, or somebody, was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing. And the Thing (or Person) was going so quietly that he could hardly hear any footfalls. What he could hear was breathing. His invisible companion seemed to breathe on a very large scale, and Shasta got the impression that it was a very large creature. And he had come to notice this breathing so gradually that he had really no idea how long it had been there. It was a horrible shock.
It darted into his mind that he had heard long ago that there were giants in these Northern countries. He bit his lip in terror. But now that he really had something to cry about, he stopped crying.
The Thing (unless it was a person) went on beside him so very quietly that Shasta began to hope that he had only imagined it. But just as he was becoming quite sure of it, there suddenly came a deep, rich sigh out of the darkness beside him. That couldn’t be imagination! Anyway, he has felt the hot breath of that sigh on his chilly left hand.
If the horse had been any good—or if he had known how to get any good out of the horse—he would have risked everything on a break away and a wild gallop. But he knew he couldn’t make that horse gallop. So he went on at a walking pace and the unseen companion walked and breathed beside him. At last, he could bear it no longer.
“Who are you?” he said, barely above a whisper.
“One who has waited long for you to speak,” said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep.
“Are you—are you a giant?” asked Shasta.
“You might call me a giant,” said the Large Voice. “But I am not like the creatures you call giants.”
“I can’t see you at all,” said Shasta, after staring very hard. Then (for an even more terrible idea had come into his head) he said, almost in a scream, “You’re not–not something dead, are you? Oh, please—please do go away. What harm have I ever done you? Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world.”
Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. “There,” it said, “that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows.”
He is here
Oh my friends, He is here.
Even now, especially now.
In this pandemic.
In interminable days and sleepless nights.
With you. With me.
We are not alone.
And the Breath of His Spirit blows warmth upon us.
He says: “Tell me your sorrows.”
It is the most tender invitation.
And He says this too,
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt. 11: 28—30.
Light in the darkness
So, we turn to Him, come to Him, pour out our heart’s. Tell Him our sorrows and anchor our hope in this, that He has come: “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:79.