I started to write an entry about how Psalm 42 and 43 are two parts of the same song. It was a wonderful discussion of how, in one’s present suffering, the recollection of God’s past work produces a future hope of being led out of darkness by God’s truth and light. I wrote about how, even though we might recall God’s love and look forward to his salvation, we can still find ourselves struggling with depression and emptiness.
But after I wrote some paragraphs, I realized my words came across far too academically. So I scrapped it.
I then thought about saying that no matter how hard we try, there will always be people who don’t like us and seek our demise. We can live a good and upstanding life but if someone wants to slander you, well, there is really nothing you can do about it. I thought about how we can often feel as though God abandoned us, and maybe even helped the wicked people succeed in harming us. I thought about how, in those lowest times of life, we questioning all the choices we have made, our worth as a human being, and if we should bother to continue following God. I thought about how we always say we will follow God, but deep down inside questions linger and we feel as though we carry the weight of the world alone.
But I realized that would sound like some form of Christian existentialism and I could be accused of affirming human suffering over God’s goodness. So I scrapped those thoughts.
I then sat back for a bit and thought I should write about the light of God’s truth. I thought I was interesting how God often uses the concept of light to illustrate a contrast between himself and evil. I thought about the beauty of light and how pure white light when passed through a prism, reveals every color of the rainbow. I thought about how when God, described as living in unapproachable light, is brought into our dismal lives we produce the many-faceted fruit of the spirit and are led out of sin and darkness and to his brilliant throne.
But all of that, however true, seemed somewhat forced and, frankly, far too poetic and dramatic for my liking. So once again, I scrapped my thoughts.
It was at this point I gave up and allowed my mind to wander back to a time when I was on an airplane and wanted to take a nap but had made the mistake of sitting on the side of the plane receiving direct sunlight for the entire flight. With a full flight, moving seats was impossible so I pulled the shades down, as did nearly everyone else on my side of the plane, making the cabin extremely dark, and for the next four hours I napped (excepting, of course, the nearly ten times I was awakened to the sounds of the gentleman next to me utilizing the special little bags found in the seat back pocket, but that’s another story). As the plane began its final descent, I opened the blind for a moment to look outside but was not prepared for the undiminished intensity of the sun’s rays. The cabin flooded with painfully bright light, causing groans from my neighbors, hurting my eyes, and prompting me to look away as I quickly closed the blind. It seemed a nearly full five minutes before my sight was restored and I was able, once again, to comfortably see my surroundings.
It was then I realized this was somewhat like how things are when we find ourselves in the darkness of abandonment looking forward to the light of God’s truth. While we might be so fortunate as to catch a glimpse of God’s beautiful light, it can be painful when it streams into the darkness. We know our lives would be better with God’s light and truth, but something within us craves the comfort we find in darkness. I don’t know about others, but I think I often love the idea of the light of God’s truth much more than its reality.
What I mean is, I often walk out of a sermon, or get up from reading the Bible, or finish a good Christian book and think about the changes I should make. But it doesn’t take long before I walk away from those times with God and re-enter my daily routine and forget about making the changes. Shortly the darkness of the day overtakes me and I find my soul downcast, once again longing for God’s light and truth: but for some reason I resist. It think it’s mainly because I don’t have enough strength to endure the pain associated with opening the blinds for God’s light and truth even though I know it’s the right thing to do, and so I sit in the comfortable darkness of my own depression.
But it is in those times, particularly, that I must remember we will someday stand in his unapproachable light with a great throng of believers from every nation and from every time, singing God’s praises. I must trust that future joy to exceed the comfort of my present darkness, making worthwhile any pain I might feel as God’s light and truth enters my downcast soul. In short, however painful, I must open the blinds.