There are moments when it seems like darkness wins.
When evil is stronger than the good in life.
When your very best isn’t even close to enough.
And the fight is lost.
I know those times really well.
Maybe you do, too.
These moments happen at grave sides
or in hospital rooms.
Sometimes it’s an email from HR that makes you want to cry.
Or another brutal collection call on the voicemail that you don’t even bother to listen to (you know their script).
Or it’s because your partner is just “done” with you (and really who can blame them?).
Or you decide to give yourself a “treat,” and it’s like your addiction swallows you whole.
Or your shame and self-loathing snuff out even the smallest joy in your day…day after day after horrible day.
I know the feelings, if not your specifics.
There was a time where I found myself in a dark hole. It was years ago but the memory is still a sharp and scary. I still have dreams about that time. You know those dreams where you wake up in a sweaty startle, heart racing and you’re so very, very thankful it was just a dream.
It was the dark hole of a lifetime.
I’ll spare you the details but friends were few. Options were narrow. And I was scared to death. Really scared. And it went on and on and on. Weeks turned to months.
I was without a future.
And I was asking myself, “Where’s God?”
And I was asking God, “Where are you?”
And “What are you doing?”
And “What is going to happen?”
And “What am I supposed to do?”
I was clinging to a hope that I just didn’t feel but longed for.
We, who follow Jesus, love Easter.
We love it because it is about darkness and light.
It is about hopelessness and hope.
It is about clinging to a hope you don’t feel.
It is about waiting.
The first folks who followed Jesus were shocked that He was killed. The cross was shame, loss and hopelessness. It was darkness winning. Evil killing the one good man. And foolishness . . . they’d foolishly thought He was the One. And so when they killed Him, their dreams died, too.
I know those first followers asked, “Where are you?”
And “What are you doing?”
And “What are we supposed to do?”
And there was silence. And waiting.
That first Easter morning word began to spread that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t over. Maybe, just maybe, something BIG had happened.
Some wanted to believe but couldn’t. (I certainly would have been in among those who weren’t quite sure.)
But it was true.
Everything changed because the sun rose that first Easter on an empty tomb. And that changed everything.
Easter is about the sunrise after the long, long darkness.
Easter is about hope after hopelessness.
Easter is about laughter after sorrow.
Easter is about a sunrise when you need it most.
When I was in my darkest time I was sliding off the slippery end of my rope and was completely undone. I was depressed and lost and hopeless. I was numb. But sadly not too numb to be scared and ashamed.
There’d been a long string of sleepless nights. Night after night of trying to sleep but the anxiety beat me every night. It was the lowest of a very low time.
I remember getting dressed for work one morning. I hadn’t slept again and the day ahead was grim. It took all my concentration to get dressed. It took everything I had to soldier into another day. And I remember praying, “God I really, really can’t do this any more.”
And maybe unlike any other time I’ve prayed that, it was true. I was done.
But I managed to get out the door on that wintery day. I threw my gear into the truck and started off to work.
As I looked in the mirror on my door to pull out, I saw a sunrise.
Framed in my driver’s side mirror was a spectacular blazing glorious sunrise. It was like the sky behind the trees was on fire. And there were gorgeous golden rays shooting up out of the sunrise. The sky was ablaze. It was a Spielberg-worthy sunrise. My breath caught and the tears just flowed. And I sat there and cried. I’d been waiting. Wondering. And in the moment of my darkest despair, after weeks and weeks of hopelessness. I had longed for a sign. And there it was.
I’d never seen a sunrise in my mirror in spite of parking my truck there every morning. I left at the same time every morning, yet I had never seen a sunrise in my mirror. Never seen a sunrise in my mirror until that morning.
And I believe it was a small sign from God that He was still with me.
You can think what you want, but it was what I needed to make it. I should say, that didn’t make things instantly better. Angels didn’t come and solve my problems. Life was plenty difficult with a heaping side order of frustration. But I had that sunrise to remind me that darkness doesn’t win.
Wherever you find yourself, I hope you’ll look for a sunrise and think of Jesus. I will be. Easter means darkness doesn’t win.
Hopelessness doesn’t get the last word.
Shame doesn’t get to ride us to the ground.
I usually ask you what you think. I’d love to know that but I’d also enjoy knowing how you are. We’re all about relationships here at Oneicity, and if we can help you, whatever your struggle, we’d consider it an honor.
And as our Easter tradition goes: “He is risen.”
(photo credit: Steve Thomas)