My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
This is how I felt two weeks ago.
Like a sunset, where the light fades so gradually that you didn’t notice it until suddenly it’s dark, that is what happened to me over the last couple of months.
It started with a work situation that got worse, and then I was pushing myself beyond what I should have done to publish my latest book until I had no resources left.
I asked my facebook friends to pray:
And I experienced the presence of God for a day. It was like the clouds parting and the sun shining through.
But yet the sun was always there – it’s just I couldn’t see it directly.
I still felt cold as on a winter’s day but the glory of seeing the sun brought hope that spring would return.
But after that day, when the clouds covered the sun again, it was tempting to think that “prayer doesn’t work” as it didn’t stay sunny all the time…
God is here
But I realised that actually prayer showed me the reality of the sun’s omnipresence.
God is here with me in the darkness, as David wrote in Psalm 23:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me
He is with me in the darkness and as he also wrote in Psalm 139:
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
I might not feel him, but He is here.
What I can do is acknowledge that truth and thank Him for being here with me.
In Shiva, the Jewish grieving process, they a friend or member of the family sit with the bereaved for 7 days. They don’t say anything they just keep company and listen.
There’s something so godly about this. They act like the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who is with us in our distress.
This is how Christ fulfils His promise of being with us always. This is the truth whether we feel it or not.
I just have to open myself up to that truth.
I felt like someone on an operating table undergoing open heart surgery. Therefore I just have to be still and cease my striving and let the Great Physician operate on me.
I was done with crying out for change and rescue, I was in a place where I just had to sit and open myself up to him.
Sometimes that involved just sitting and letting the words of worship songs speak truth into my life (especially if my thoughts are spiralling down – songs catch my attention and break my chain of thought).
Sometimes that involved reading the Psalms of lamentations where David expresses the reality that I’m going through. But mostly it was just sitting acknowledging the truth of His comforting presence.
Sometimes it was just pouring out my heart like David. Even though it might feel like I was talking to empty space – the act of talking establishes intimacy with the One who is always there, and let’s the light pour in as I was honest about my struggles and disappointments – even with how He has not rescued me the way I was hoping.
Sometimes, like David in Psalm 22, it was remembering the previous times of darkness, like when our babies died, but then recalling how He met us in those times.
And gradually the healing came.
He revealed that my current circumstances had triggered a repressed memory of bullying by a former boss where I was hauled into her office and was being told what I should and shouldn’t do.
Now the Holy Spirit only ever brings up things that He was to shine light into and bring healing. So I knew that He wanted to transform this memory – I needed to see Jesus in this memory.
I asked “where were you when that was happening?”
I have an active imagination – which is why I hear God speak to me through stories and then write them in turn – and I wanted to be sure it was Him and not just me imagining Him in the memory. So I had determined that if it was Him then He would do something I wouldn’t ever expect in my imagination.
And it happened – I saw Jesus in my memory hugging the boss and telling me how she had not been loved by her mother and so she sought to control others to help her cope with her out-of-control life.
This broke me. No longer was I in the memory feeling like a little boy and helpless. I rose up from my seat and responded to what Jesus was doing and starting praying for her. This not only transformed the memory but also called the godly man out of me.
This has now gradually filtered through to my current life – the circumstance at work has found it’s proper place. It’s annoying and I don’t think the current direction the company is taking is the right one – but it’s no longer causing the anxiety it did and I am gradually feeling better in my head and able to function normally.
Spring is coming.
If it helps here is a kind of rough summary of how I worshipped (gave God worth) in the darkness:
- Admit the truth of where you’re at
- Admit the greater truth of Immanuel – God with us
- Use songs, psalms and talk to express to Him and yourself where you’re at and the truth of who He is
- Recall His works and faithfulness in the past
- Rest and receive all that He has in the present
Father, for those reading this who are where I was at – ,may You meet them like You met me. May they know You are there, even if they can’t feel You. May they rest in Your everlasting arms. Help them to open up and deepen their relationship with You and receive all that You have for them in this season. In name of Jesus who has experienced the worst the world can throw at us and who is with us now through the Comforter. Amen.