But there is a day coming when the light will overwhelm the darkness forever.
As I peered through the Venetian blinds in my bedroom, a full moon illuminated the starry sky. My heart ached for the darkness within to brighten that easily, but as I closed the shades, the blackness remained. Tears streamed down hollow spaces.
Sitting on the edge of my bed, I scrolled to numb the pain.
“You have no good reason to be depressed, Amber, just get it together,” my mind spat.
“Jesus died for you, and this is how you serve Him? Crying and ungrateful?” Negative thoughts bombarded my heart.
“You should be ashamed of yourself. Are you even a Christian?” My body broke.
In between shallow breathing and trembling hands, all I could pray was “God help–make it stop.”
After the moment passed, I penned these words: “I’m scared the darkness is going to win. I’m scared I’m always going to be this way. I’m scared of seeking You in the dark, for fear I’ll never find the light.”
As I write this, I still have some dark nights of the soul, but I’m here to bring you three things God has taught me amidst them. Despite what others, or even your mind, may tell you, God’s not mad at you and loves you all the same. He is even with you when the darkness doesn’t lift.
God’s Not Mad at You
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah was exhausted. Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him. Full of despair and loneliness, the prophet was away from his land and mission. Dejected, he got so depressed he considered suicide.
“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4, NIV).
Have you ever felt that way? Ever uttered the words “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life,” when anxiety and depression just won’t cease? In low points, struggles, questions, and pain, when I was asking God, “What’s wrong with me?” and heaping critical remarks upon myself, He was looking down with empathy and love (Psalms 14:2, TPT).
In this moment of weakness, God didn’t rebuke Elijah for his depression; He provided food and water or the journey would be too much for Him. Two times, an angel of the Lord brought bread baked over hot coals and water as Elijah rested (1 Kings 19:5-8). Strengthened by that food, he was able to travel forty days and nights to Horeb, the mountain of God (1 Kings 19:9).
God’s Not Ashamed of You
Just as God wasn’t mad at Elijah for praying for death, He’s not mad at you for struggling in the dark. Anxious, depressive, and even fleeting suicidal thoughts have a way of making us feel worthless, broken, and ashamed. God’s not ashamed of you or your weakness. He wants you to come to Him with your needs. Even when you're a mess, God is gentle and kind.
David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22), illustrates this point further. Though he loved God, he also wrestled with anxious thoughts and depressed moods (Psalm 22-23). His Psalms sing of loving God in one line and wishing to die in the next. God still loved him, used him, and had good things in store for him.
As David and many others experienced, God sits with you in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. He also sits with you in the sunshine and joyous moments because He loves you in both.
God Sees You
God provided food and water, giving Elijah the strength to make his way to the mountain of God (1 Kings 19:8-9). He spent the night in a cave, hiding from his enemies. Although he received comfort, Elijah was still fearful and depressed.
God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?”
Elijah replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (1 Kings 19:9-10).
Can you sense the apprehension?
God commanded Elijah to go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord; a powerful wind, earthquake, and fire passed by. But God revealed Himself in a gentle whisper. Elijah didn’t need to be reminded of God’s power, strength, and justice; He needed to be reminded of His peaceful presence.
A second time God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” This time, God commanded Him to go back the way he came and face the enemy head-on (1 Kings 19:13-15). If anyone tried to escape, Jehu and Elisha would put them to death (1 Kings 19:16-17). But God Himself had also reserved 7,000 in Israel. Elisha wasn’t alone, even though he felt like it (1 Kings 19:18).
If you’re in the thick of depression or anxiety, it may be difficult to see a way out. It can be even more challenging to remember that God sees you and loves you amid the struggle. God spoke gently to Elijah in a still whisper and reminded him of the angels’ armies on his side. He’s the same God with the same reminder today.
God sees you right where you are. Just like He loved and cared for Elijah, God’s response to your weakness and pain acknowledges where you are, and reminds you where you’re going.
God Is with You
As Elijah traveled back to the Desert of Damascus, God didn’t take away Elijah’s depression. No magic wand was waved or quick fix offered as a solution. But God did provide rest, food, and water so Elijah would be well-equipped for the journey.
Following the Lord’s commands, Elijah called Elisha to be his servant and obey the instructions he’d been given. Though it wouldn’t be until 2 Kings 9 that Jezebel would tumble to her violent death. This tells me two things:
1. Elisha may have very well still been depressed and scared, but
2. he knew that God was with Him no matter how dark the situation grew.
Dark Days and Darker Nights
In my battle with anxiety and depression, I’ve had a lot of dark days and darker nights. Times when I could barely pull myself from the bed or tell someone I was hurting. But even then, I was reminded of Elijah. A man who knew what it was like to be weak but clung to faith anyway.
Jesus’ Darkest Hour
One of the most profound examples of this is how the Father cared for Jesus on the cross. Jesus asked three times: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me” (Luke 22:42). Ultimately, Jesus accepted God’s plan, knowing it was better than His own. God carried out the crucifixion because He loves us and wants us to share eternity with Him. Jesus didn’t go to the cross for His gain. He went for ours.
Scripture doesn’t define God’s provision as banishing darkness forever, or giving you what you want when you want it. There will be many times that your darkness remains, at least temporarily. God’s promise to come, however, should bring comfort.
Sitting in the Dark
As someone who wrestles with the darkness, I wonder where you are today. Staring out your window, the darkness threatens to swallow you whole.
Your mind spits heinous accusations, and you feel weighed down with the belief that things will never get better. The darkness says you’re isolated, broken, and alone. You believe it.
It might sound like a paradox, but if that’s you, there is a reason for hope. Jesus’ presence in our lives illuminates every dark place. Darkness is not dark or scary to Him. In our darkest places, His light can shine the brightest.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you (Psalm 139:11-12, NIV).
When we’re trapped in times of pain and anguish, it can be difficult to press into Christ, let alone feel His presence. I’ve been there. I often still am. But there is a day coming when the light will overwhelm the darkness forever.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:1-5, NIV).
Friend, dark days and darker nights are known to your humanity. Not one is exempt. But amid them, reach for hope. God’s light. His presence penetrates the darkness.
As someone once told me, we wouldn’t know the power of light without wrestling in the dark. Let this be so of every window you’ve gazed out, as tears streamed down your face, fearful and afraid. Let this be so of every mental health challenge you’ve faced or will continue to face. Knowing the darkness won’t last forever. Holding onto Hope Himself, who will bring every dark place to the light once and for all.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Cherry Laithang
Amber Ginter is a teacher, author, blogger, and mental health activist who resides in the beautiful mountains and cornfields of Ohio. She loves Jesus, granola, singing, reading, dancing, running, her husband Ben, and participating in all things active. She’s currently enrolled in the Author Conservatory Program and plans to pitch her book: Mental Health and the Modern Day Church for Young Adults, soon. Visit her website at amberginter.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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