The Darkness I See, The Promises I Know
“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”
There is a great temptation to allow our lives to be dominated by fear. Fear of external things, outside of our control. Fear of our own beliefs and doubts. Fear of the unknown. We are told each day that there are new things to fear...things we once trusted, places we’ve been...there is now a reason to fear them.
There was a period shortly after I graduated college when I stopped reading the news. I had to. I couldn’t handle the daily reports of depravity. I couldn’t handle another report on TV that graphically showed another tragedy. It wasn’t a reaction or statement toward modern news media as much as it was a reaction of feeling so tired of the brokenness.
The temptation to give into these things and live in a constant state of fear is always lurking in the back of my heart. What would I have thought watching Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a donkey? Is this it? You’re saving us from the tyranny of Rome with this? The constant fear of oppression, the reality of brokenness. These things were felt so deeply by those in Jerusalem...and their King was riding in on a donkey, without a sword, without an army.
I wrote about this during advent - the idea that our Savior would be born in a stable, within sight of Herod’s great fortress, is not how we would begin the tale of a great Savior. It feels weak. It seems too powerless. That this adult Savior would enter the city on a donkey, without his army, feels depressingly comedic. Jesus, don’t you see this darkness growing? Aren’t you supposed to destroy it with your power?
And yet, during holy week, I am reminded of why Jesus radiated the very nature of humility in everything he did. He entered the darkness, willingly - without an army, without a triumphal entry. And he did it not only so that I do not have to, but so that with every inch of darkness I feel growing around me, I can rest knowing it has been illuminated by the presence of Christ. We serve a king who not only has defeated the darkness, but inhabited it. The very darkness I am tempted to fear, Christ says, “I’ve been there. I went into that place. I’ve defeated it.”
I had the unique privilege of hearing a holocaust survivor share his story this month. At the end of his talk, he took questions from the audience and one person asked him how he could speak with such grace, without propagating hatred for what had been done to his family. His answer was brilliant: “I don’t look at yesterday or tomorrow, I just live for today.” He chose not to focus on what had happened or what will happen, he chose to live for the moment he had in front of him. As followers of Christ, we can choose this focus too - especially when tempted to give into the fear of what we see and hear every day. But it will eventually fail us because it doesn’t change the reality of what happened this week 2,000 years ago...what is happening today...and what we have been promised will happen when Christ returns. I hold fast to these truths on Good Friday, because like those who watched Christ hang on the cross, the hope of what I know to be true and what has been promised far outweighs the darkness that I see in front of me.
How does knowing Christ has inhabited the darkness change the way you face fear?