What Going Backwards Teaches Us About the Light

Amber Ginter

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Published: May 08, 2023
What Going Backwards Teaches Us About the Light

Having a relapse or experiencing darkness doesn't present hopeless situations. It offers room for God's light to shine through.

"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path" (Psalm 119:105, NIV).

I started Sunday morning off with a downpour, and not just literally but emotionally and figuratively as well. 

In my heart, I felt a deep ache. My hands were shaking from the moment I rose, and uneasiness filled my soul. When I looked out the window and saw it raining, I knew it would be a long day. 

On my drive to church, I saw the storm coming. Dark clouds brewed in the distance of May skies. I always thought April showers brought May flowers. I guess when you live in Ohio, rain comes any time it well pleases. 

Through the downpour, the skies dimmed. A light day became dark at merely eight in the morning. Peering through my glasses and another shield of glass, I desperately wished my eyes and my windshield had better wipers.

When Darkness Surprises Us

But what I didn't see coming was three panic attacks on a drive I've taken thousands of times. Immediately, my mind flashed to the first one I experienced five years ago. My soul was crushed. 

Approaching another detour, I couldn't breathe. It's hard to drive a car when your heart rate goes from 50 to 160 in a matter of seconds. When somehow your mind and fears manipulate that beating within you to feel a loss of control. Even when you don't feel you're thinking at all. Somehow, I was running. 

As the road shook before me, so did my hands and body. Trembling, all I could say was, "Jesus." Flipping the AC to cold and adjusting the radio before me, I set my gaze straight. 

"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."

I said His name, but I couldn't take my mind to that place. 

All I could think about was being lost on gravel roads I didn't recognize and wrecking the white car I'd finally taken the time to wash the day before. 

By the time I made it to my church, I was embarrassed and defeated. I thought I was over almost blacking out while driving. I thought I was stronger. I thought my anxiety was getting better even if the depression wasn't. I suppose I was wrong. 

The Threats of Darkness Don't Always Tell the Truth

Of course, none of my fears came true. 

I didn't wreck my newly washed car, and I certainly didn't run off the road. A timely and unplanned phone call from my fiance even helped me re-direct my steps. But the second my car pulled into the gravel parking lot, I lost it. 

As I walked into worship practice, I mustered a brave face. These people couldn't know what I'd just walked through. They'd never understand. I apologized for being late and then had an anxiety attack in the bathroom. Ugly tears and crying included. 

After re-composing myself, I was shocked when the worship leader asked me to lead the song "Tremble." There's no way I have the strength to declare this song, I thought to myself. How can I sing about Jesus calming my storm when I'm still fearful, my mind pondered. How can I sing about victory when I just had a relapse? Shame surrounded my every being. 

But the more I sang the song, the more I wondered if Jesus had me drive through those storms earlier that morning, not because He wanted me to encounter three panic attacks, but because He wanted to show me that even when I don't see the light, His name is the light. And not only is His Word a light for my path, but so is His name

The Light of His Name

His name illuminates the darkness, even when I can't see it. 

"Your name is a light that the shadows can't deny

Your name cannot be overcome

Your name is alive forever lifted high

Your name cannot be overcome

Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble

Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear

Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble

Jesus, Jesus" (Tremble by Mosaic MSC)

I think there was a reason God had "Tremble" on the agenda for that day. I think there was an even greater reason why He wanted me to lead that song. 

For the first time in a long time, I had the power to sing words so deeply true for me that I had to get them out. And even though I felt so incredibly small, ashamed, embarrassed, and mortified at that moment, it was as if my voice couldn't deny it. The power in my song was notable to all. 

There is power in the name of Jesus, not because I say it, but because of who He is and what He's done. I find it no accident that hours before I would sing, "Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble," I cried out the name of Jesus in the bleak darkness of my circumstances. 

Speak the Name of Jesus

Today, I'm still processing the relapse. Still fighting shame and attempting to ignore the voices that tell me I'm worthless, not making progress, and always going to live this way. I'm still trying to move on. To remember that progress isn't always linear, and Jesus isn't mad at me. That He sits with me in my darkness

The exhaustion of three panic attacks, an anxiety attack, and acting okay all day when that's the furthest from how you really feel inside is crippling. It's not something you can recover from overnight. 

But as I speak the name of Jesus, I have comfort that He's with me in this place. And when the storms come (because they will continue here on earth), I can rest assured that all I need to do is call out to Him, reminding myself of His presence. His power. His name. 

A Common Misconception

One common misconception I used to have about calling on the Lord was that He would make all of my problems cease. A second favorite is that if I believed in Jesus or prayed hard enough, He would remove every storm from my life. I've grown up to realize that faith in Jesus doesn't equal the absence of storms. And the presence of storms doesn't mean I lack faith. 

Jesus told us that in this world, we would face much trouble. Trials and storms are part of life in this temporary place we call home. Yet the power of His name is to remind us that not even a relapse can stifle the light He brings to a situation. 

Jesus Himself is light. But that doesn't mean He's incapable of sitting with us in dark places.

"LORD, You light my lamp; my God illuminates my darkness. With You I can attack a barrier, and with my God I can leap over a wall. God — His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is pure. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God besides Yahweh? And who is a rock? Only our God. God — He clothes me with strength and makes my way perfect" (Psalm 18:28-32 HCSB). 

God dwells in our dark places when we're stuck and suffering. He isn't afraid of it but has compassion for those who can't escape its thick and heavy clutches. But though God is light and dwells in the light, He's with us in our darkness. Reminding us He's still there. And He overcomes it. 

Be encouraged, sweet friend. Having a relapse or experiencing darkness doesn't present hopeless situations. It offers room for God's light to shine through. Though we may suffer now, though we may struggle to see anything through pitch-black fears and thoughts that ensnare our minds, the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome (or understood) it" (John 1:5, NIV). 

Agape, Amber

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Brian A. Jackson

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a young adult writer that currently works as an English teacher in Chillicothe, Ohio, and has a passionate desire to impact the world for Jesus through her love for writing, aesthetics, health/fitness, and ministry. Amber seeks to proclaim her love for Christ and the Gospel through her writing, aesthetic worship arts, and volunteer roles. She is enrolled in the YWW Author Conservatory to become a full-time author and is a featured writer for Crosswalk, ibelieve, Salem Web Network, The Rebelution, Daughter of Delight, Kallos, Anchored Passion, No Small Life, and Darling Magazine. In the past, she's also contributed to Called Christian Writers, Southern Ohio Today News, Ohio Christian University, and The Circleville Herald. Visit her website at amberginter.com.