“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”
– Edgar Allan Poe
Silent tears trickle down as I listen to this song. I’ve been there. The hopeless state of the Beast has matched the loneliness and hopelessness of my soul. Stuck in a decaying and crumbling castle of my mind. Mirrors only reflect the darkness of my thoughts. I can only see each petal drop and no hope of freedom from my state.
In the hidden and stillness of night, the thoughts come. The shadows of suffocating struggles speak. I know my struggle. You know your struggle. It feels like we are singing the Beast’s song. No matter how hard we try, we only find more oppressing pain and hopeless tears.
How many times have I talked to counselors, prayed, memorized Scripture, read books, bought new Bibles… all in hopes to be free from the struggle inside. How many times have we desperately darted to any Do-It-Yourself plan to find freedom?
Have we come to this sad conclusion?
As My Dreams Die…
I remember, being in seminary, studying for what I hoped to be in a position in ministry. I remember one night reading about the characteristics of a pastor – Above Reproach (I Timothy 3:1-2). These words stabbed my soul. Surfacing was the remembrance of the cloaked figure stalking me in the shadows – my struggle. My knees buckled, and I crumpled on the floor. My fists pounded against the floor. I hated myself. I hated what was inside.
I went to counselors, friends, mentors, professors at the university I attended. I was given books, podcasts, verses, and advice. I studied the Bible as hard as I could. I prayed. Each time I was told of the skill and talent I possessed was another stab to remind me of my struggle. My dream of ever doing anything in ministry was dying… unless my struggle could be conquered.
My soul echoed with Psalm 42:3-4. My heart broke as I thought of what could be, and sighed, “God, why me?” All around me people stared thinking no life could be cheaper, no spirit could win him, he says he’s called, but not with that struggle. As my dreams died, I saw my will to live die. I began idealizing suicide. If I was only to live a life in misery chained to this struggle and leaving others hurting in its shadows, then free them by eliminating me.
Do you have a similar story? The public naming of the struggle does not matter. You deeply know its name and its suffocating strength. Are your dreams dying because of that thing in the shadows? Are there nights where you can only cry out, “Let the world be done with me!”
Is there hope?
The Lie in Hopelessness
You chose this
You need more faith
You need to kill sin or it will kill you
Are you sure God has not given you over?
We can’t be friends because of…
I have heard many of these and variations on them. You have heard them as well. You hear the whispers, the gossip, and the pious prayer requests regarding you and your… “well, you know.” Opening up in a place of healing has turned into a place of rejection, shunning, and acidic acting.
At the heart of what we experience is found in Psalm 42:3. Each statement echoes in the dark caverns of our mind, “Where is your God? How can you claim him and struggle with that?” The lie of hopeless is to deceive you, even amongst believers, to think your God is nowhere. Your only option is to give up.
However, who is your God? Your God is close to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18). He knows ever sigh, tear, and each time you stand alone as others desert you for fear of catching your contagious corruption (Psalm 38:9-12). He is the God who hold all your tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). He is the God who purposed this struggle in order to show the world an amazing miracle of grace (Psalm 139:13-16; John 9:1-3; II Corinthians 12:7-10). He the God who looks you in the eye, and gently reminds you nothing could ever take away his love for you (Romans 8:31-39).
Hopelessness is questioning God. A simple match lit on the truths of God’s word can relight your soul’s candle.
Post Tenebras Lux
No matter how many Bible truths we memorize, the darkness remains. The struggle, at times, is going to drown us. “The verses aren’t working!” we shout as we hit our Bible on the table hoping its batteries will spark to life. I know the darkness is frightening. I know how it feels to only want to die rather than live one day more with it. I know you would never chose it. I know what it’s like to want to cut your flesh every time you fall. I know what it’s like to be lectured to the point of wanting to blow your brains out because you feel worthless in God’s family.
God sees each tear and collects them (Psalm 56:8). With your bottle of tears, God writes the most beautiful words in all of Scripture “I will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever (Revelation 21:4).”
Post Tenebras Lux translates to, “After Darkness Light.” It is like the scene in The Lord of the Rings when the ring is destroyed – Watch Here
Darkness will end. In the musical adaptation of Tolkien’s work, these words are sung as the ring is destroyed – (Listen to it here start at 1:55)
Out of death, life
Out of night, day
Glory from sorrow
Out of grief, joy
Out of storm, come
Strength for tomorrow…
Far beyond feeling
Destruction of pain
Come, breath of healing
A new life will reign
The One Ring is the heavy burden we carry. We can give into its power or we can carry it all the way to the end. Out of darkness come light. God promises. Where does he promise this? I Corinthians 15:54-57 boldly shouts our life comes out of Christ’s death. We have the resurrection power of Christ in us. This struggle, this burden will not overcome you. It does not separate you from God’s love. You may feel kicked down and only a broken Christian, but isn’t that the kind of vessel God wants (II Corinthians 4:7)?
Relighting Your Hope
What has blown out your candle? What has blown out that small spark of hope? Is it the people around you? Are you looking to them for approval as you struggle? It is no better than the robbed man reaching out to the Priest or the Levite (Luke 10:31-32).
I have been there. In fact, there are days where I still experience it. I don’t have a formula to follow. If you think I am perfect, then you would be far from the truth. I have wanted to take my life on more than one occasion. There are days my mind paints a dark picture of all the ways I could by using things in my own home. There are days I have to literally run out of the house to escape. I have cried over my struggle. I have left conversations about this struggle with dark thoughts penned by Edgar Allan Poe. I have sat in hearing of people saying, “No one with common sense would ever struggle with that.”
I do not have the answer for the pain.
It can be hopeless.
But, there is someone else who comes down the road – the good samaritan (Luke 10:33-35). The one despised, rejected by man, and grief close at hand (Isaiah 53:3). He is the one that picks us up each time we fall, cares for us till we can walk again, and heals us. He is the one who came for those like you and me who can only cry over our struggles (Mark 2:17; Luke 4:16-21). Out of his death comes your life (Isaiah 53:4-5).
Our hope to carry on is not from the people in the pews next to us. Our hope is a living hope – Jesus Christ.
There are days I feel all alone in this struggle. There are days I have friends leave and abandon me. There are days I cry as the thoughts of suicide try to seduce. Through tears I need to remember the ending of Beauty and the Beast. It does not end with the Beast in deep despair throwing himself off the castle’s high tower. Instead, he is transformed by love – Watch Scene Here
It is love that transformed the Beast. It is not the approval of others or our DIY sanctification plans transforming us. It is the unfailing love of God through his grace we are being transformed. Jesus loves you so much. Jesus loves me so much. I can only lean on that love as I take each crippled step. His grace teaches me moment by moment what to do with this struggle. It may be just crying on my couch or opening up or enjoying things God has given me to make me smile through the fog.
I don’t have the answers. I stumble and I fall. But, is there hope? Yes, a Living Hope! Through this hope God will finish your story (Philippians 1:6). He started your story. He knows every character and plot twist and burden you bear from page to page. At the end, he will wipe away every tear and will be with you forever (Revelation 21:1-7).
Who could imagine so great a mercy?
What heart could fathom such boundless grace?
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken, I am forgiven
The king of kings calls me His own
Beautiful savior, I’m yours forever
Jesus Christ, my living hope
Hallelujah, praise the one who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope!
– “Living Hope” by Phil Wickham