Light In Darkness
Depression, grief and unemployment: Having experienced these hardships, Rónán Johnston shares how he found light in the midst of darkness and where we may find hope.
How often do things seem to be working out for us, when suddenly, out of the blue, some disaster, large or small, seems to put paid to our hopes and plans?
During my time, there have been a number of these experiences, such as the first time I was unemployed. One week, I was a national TV presenter, and the next I was collecting the dole. People pointed and whispered. In 2004, my mother died after contracting a post-operative hospital infection. Later in the noughties, the international economic downturn wiped us out for a decade.
Each disaster made us ask the questions: “Lord, are you really here? Do you still love us? Do you still have our best interests at heart?” In other words, just like in the Garden of Eden, the enemy has us wondering if God is true to His word.
It is, I fear, the human condition. We live in a “valley of tears” (Psalm 84:6), and yet we resolutely hang on to the idea that life should somehow be simple and straightforward. If we constantly run into opposition, there is surely something wrong with us.
Longing For Wholeness
However, is this viewpoint biblical? From the start, the Scriptures make it clear that life is difficult. We are told the man will labour (Genesis 3:19) and the woman will long for her husband (Genesis 3:16). This continues right through to Revelation when John sees a new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1). Jesus promises us: “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5) We get the feeling that things are not quite as they should be in our world.
Each of us have a longing for the wholeness of Eden within us, like a great genetic imprint put into us by God. The motivational writers of the world rightly tell us that it is a sign we are made for more (true) and, in order to attain it, we simply need enough discipline and “want it enough” to follow through (false).
The scriptures, as well as the devotional writers, remind us that we will see Eden again. However, we need to learn that there is darkness in this valley, where we live and move and have our being. One of our principle needs must be to learn how to experience the redemptive light of Jesus in that darkness.
How, then, can we see the light in the darkness? These three principles may help us:
1. Feel it. Allow the grief of the pain. Pretending to ourselves that everything will be okay, while secretly broken-hearted, is not the same thing as “giving thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
2. Dig in to the promises of God. Find them-they are in there. For example: I will never forget you (Isaiah 49:15); I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you (John 14:18); My God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19); Even if we are unfaithful, still he is faithful, because he cannot be untrue to himself (2 Timothy 2:13). Learn them, inhale them and get them deep into you.
3. Hold tight! He is coming, and He will vindicate you. No pain lasts forever, and it will eventually come to an end. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Having come through all things victorious, we develop resilience and build up trust. We press into Him, and we do not hide from Him during the most painful times.
- Rónán Johnston is a psychotherapist, a writer of soundtrack for film, TV and theatre and a worship leader from Dublin, Ireland. Further information about his work can be found at www.ronanjohnston.com