When we’re sick or scared or depressed, the darkness of night is often the worst time. That’s what I experienced years ago when I had all the symptoms of a nervous breakdown. I couldn’t eat or sleep, and because I couldn’t relate to people, I shut myself away from family and friends. All I could think of during those weeks were my fears. I felt no joy, and I was terrified of the nights.
When I think of that time now, Jesus’ promise about our being “full of light” comes to mind. I’ve always loved that. And yet Jesus says in the next sentence: “But if your eye is bad [or evil or unhealthy], your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness” (NASB Matt. 6:22-23)!
Certainly my darkness was great. And though my fears back then may sometimes have swirled into the paranoia of being under siege, mostly it was the darkness of despair that pushed at me. My life had been filled with pressure and loss and loneliness. Like a drowning person trying to save myself, I thrashed around focusing only on what I needed to do and what I was failing to do. Filled with self-effort instead of self-surrender, I was desperately praying and pleading with God, hoping to pull His light down into my life.
After about six weeks of turmoil, a turning point came around four o’clock one morning. I was shaking in bed after a sleepless night, terrified of something that I couldn’t even identify or define. So I started singing hymns, verses that I now recognize were filled with Christ. He pushed back the darkness, filling my heart with his marvelous light. How comforting it is to know that the living Saviour is always awake, never for a moment leaving us alone in the dark of night.
Not here, not there, but something apart. “Lo, I’m with you,” speaking in our heart.
Giving comfort, pushing back the night. Ever awake, lifting us to light. (Living Calm 2016)