Suffering in the Dark Vignette

Suffering in the Dark © Molly Lin Dutina 1-17-17

JN 3: 19-21 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth, comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

I have a friend who is suffering. She has been trying to walk with Christ under a load of guilt and shame. Her religious background is always telling her she is doing her journey wrong. Reluctant to ask others for guidance and help, she has begun to close down and withdraw into herself. Her journey has become a dark, dismal, depressing place to be. She has not understood how to bring her deeds to the Light of Christ and walk in His Presence with joy and thanksgiving. I do not know for certain if I can help her with this task, but we began to try to unfold the struggle somewhat last week.

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Hiding in the dark constricts us to the voices from our past, those voices that dwell in our head, and the condemnation of the enemy who comes to steal and kill and destroy (JN 10:10). In the NRSV that verse ends with Jesus saying “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Do you see the flip side of being transparent with Christ? Also, in JN 1: 5 we are told “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” No matter the dark voices, Christ can break through that darkness and show us His way out and through our struggles. No, we cannot save ourselves from judgment or sin, but becoming transparent with Jesus does set us in a place where it is possible to receive abundant life in exchange for our bungled attempts at successful living.

JN 3: 21 states “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

Asking Christ to shine His light upon our deeds helps us see the next step out of the darkness and muck.

Psalm 119:105 reads “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. “ In John 8:12 we read, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ ”

One way He shines His light upon our deeds is to give us the courage to confess to another person what we are going through. We must choose someone we trust not to judge us, but only to listen. And listening, that person must take the needs and brokenness and deeds told them and lift them to Christ our Lord. Answering with wisdom requires listening, deep listening, on the part of the listener. We can so easily crush the heart and soul of another person, but Jesus is not like that! His character is described in ISA 42:3 and MT 12:20 as “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out, till He has brought justice through to victory.” We are to be as tender towards the hurting and confused as He was while He walked the earth. Listening to the struggles of another often gives us the privilege of speaking into their life. As long as we are listening for the guidance of the Risen Savior, we can then speak what we hear Him saying to address those in need.

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So she poured out her heart and the place was flooded with her pain, but the Light of Christ was like a servant with a mop. He came and helped clean up what was shared. Encouragement to stand against helplessness and hopelessness was given. Similar to rice cereal in an infant’s spoon, words of challenge and stamina were suggested. I hoped she would try to use the coping skills she already knew. Walking with the Participating Presence of Christ at her side, I expect the next time we meet there will be some stories of conquest over darkness and surrender to the Risen Lord and yielding to the Holy Spirit’s guidance to be shared. No doubt, challenges will continue as she tries to undo and re-write years of condemnation and misunderstandings. Yet Christ dwells in her, the Hope of Glory. He will have the final victory!

Keep on with Him, dear sister in Christ. He will have the final word in your life. Give thanks for His abundant blessings for He pours out without measure upon those who are thankful and aware of His hand at work in their life.