“The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light…”

— Isaiah 9:1

Light interrupts the darkness.

Raw places sting. They jab at us in a thousand stabs. Be it physical, emotional, intellectual, relational, or spiritual, when we suffer, the darkness swirls too close. 

Our hearts ache. Our bodies throb. Our energy vanishes. Our emotions twinge. Our spirits sag. Our minds fog over. We are undone.

Light interrupts the darkness.

Life rocks smoothly along. All’s settled. We reside comfortably at home with our faith, with our God. 

Then suddenly, disaster, of one sort or another, strikes. Nothing’s settled. We wiggle uncomfortable, not at home in our emotions, our body, our mind, our hearts. Our faith and our God, once strong and secure, seem faint.

Numbness sets in. Cobwebs. Fog. Searing pain. Confusion. Longings unfilled. For hours. For days. For weeks. For months. For years. We are stuck in the muck, feeling run over, again and again and again.

Though others may walk with us in this darkness, we feel isolated, invisible. Apart. Alone. Traumatized. Tattered. Scattered. 

There is no getting over it, no getting back to normal, no quick fix, no easy road home. 

Time itself feels suspended.

Light interrupts the darkness.

Eventually, much further down the long, pot-holed road of grief and suffering at the junction of recovery and healing, we emerge from the thick pea-soup of pain and sorrow. 

We aren’t who we were way back when this avalanche of adversity descended. 

We look in the mirror and don’t fully recognize what suffering has carved or how healing has transformed us. 

We walk and wait and watch and laugh and dance and cry differently than before. 

Walter Brueggemann, Old Testament scholar, writes of these stages in Praying the Psalms. Professor Brueggemann notes that we experience being “securely oriented,” then “painfully disoriented,” then “surprisingly reoriented.” 

Light interrupts the darkness.

I don’t know what your sorrow and pain are. I do know they complicate all of life, just as my own have. 

Over seven decades of life, I’ve known more sorrow than I care to claim, though it’s certainly claimed me. 

I’ve miscarried a much-loved child. A most-loved marriage shattered in unwanted divorce. A promised promotion went, instead, to a colleague. Surgery, a promised relief, relieved nothing. A friendship, long-treasured, disappeared. Surely you know of what I speak. 

Loss gallivanted, cavalier and haughty, through my days as well as through the lives of folks—friends and family near and dear—well-known and well-loved. 

Troubles descended, leaving behind the turbulence of trauma. Inner healing’s balm shuffled along, slow to mend the broken heart, soul, spirit, mind, body. 

In the middle of the worst pain of my life, I’ve run home sobbing, into the arms of my Good, Good heavenly Father. My Lover Jesus romances my broken heart. Glorious Holy Spirit hovers over chaos and, out of the vast swirl of brokenness, restored (ever restoring) with creativity, with beauty, with “surprising reorientation.” 

Light interrupts the darkness.

What have you lost? 

A child? A parent? A friend? 

A marriage? A job? A promotion? 

A dream? A path forward? A path through?

A past? A future? A now? 

Innocence? Hope? Health? 

Trust? Finances? Faith? 

Trauma tramples, leaving us trembling. 

Light interrupts the darkness.

We are rattled. God is not. 

We are shaken. God is not. 

We are stuck. God is not. 

We lose hope. God has not.

Light interrupts the darkness.

In this season of Advent, sorrow feels like an unwanted companion, especially amid a culture that sentimentalizes Christmas and dismisses Christ. 

Winds and waves whip the boat.

Jesus invites Peter, “Come.”

Eyes on Jesus, Peter walks on stormy seas.

Eyes on waves, Peter sinks.

Light interrupts the darkness.

Storms rise, unbidden, undeserved. 

Some come with no explanation given, sending us spiraling downward. 

Others come. We were forewarned, but we still missed the signs. 

Pain pummels. 

Some storms swirl at the behest of another’s poor choice or as a consequence of one’s own lack of wisdom. Some hold no rhyme or reason. 

Light interrupts the darkness.

Whatever your pain and sorrow this Advent season, Jesus weeps with you. 

Your Good, Good Father has your name engraved on His heart. 

He sees you. 

He knows you. 

He hears you.

He longs to wipe away your tears. 

The Spirit lingers near to comfort you. 

The Psalms invite you to lament your suffering.

Keep waiting. Keep watching. Keep walking. 

Keep going onward towards the stable. 

Look in the manger. 

 Light interrupts the darkness.

Featured images are courtesy of Mike Labrum, Rebecca Peterson-Hall, and Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

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