Monday, March 23, 2009

Hope in the darkness

“Our hope endures the worst of conditions; it’s more than our optimism. Let the earth quake; our hope remains.” As I listened to the lyrics of Natalie Grant’s newest song over and over last year, I wept. I didn’t know why. I could make sense out of very little. I was so severely wrongly medicated and traumatized by the events of the preceding months, but something in these lyrics rang true in my heart. There would be days that I would play this song dozens of times in the span of a couple hours. My mind was unable to grasp its power, but the Spirit in my heart knew the power of this hope that would not let me go. My hope endured the worst of conditions. This Hope was not my own. It was not my own effort or even my own understanding. It was the hope of the Spirit living inside of me, even when I was in the deepest depths of the darkest dungeon of my entire life. I curled in a ball in my bed crying for days, fearful for my life. No one outside was out to get me. It was something that was inside that sought to destroy. Who let it in? Who knew that wrongly prescribed psychotropic drugs would take me so deep into the most horrifying nightmare of my life, where I would fear my own mind? I would be a prisoner in a body that was out to annihilate me. If this was not a tool that the enemy would try to use to destroy me, I don’t know what could be. This picture of last year provides the setting in which God showed His power and hope that existed even during a time that I felt the farthest from His presence.
After being a believer for 23 years, I have never felt as rejected and abandoned by the Lord as I did in 2007. I couldn’t make sense out of the Word, the world, or my mind. Nothing fit together. I couldn’t see past my nose. I could not hope in the future, because I was so consumed by total and utter fear. It was a fog of death, despair, and destruction. God’s hand was present, and His arm was never removed. He did not step away, nor did He hide His face. He saw the tears. He collected them in His jar. He held me in His arms. He soothed me with His love songs. He remained my Strength and Song through the darkest night of my soul.
He provided a series of glimpses of His face, which in retrospect, shine so clearly. At the time, only my heart could understand. That spiritual understanding, however, was sufficient for the time. Over the past year, God has restored so much hope, peace, and joy to my life. He also showed me His presence in the pit. He was there. He provided the song, “Our Hope Endures” during those days where my confused mind said that all hope was gone. He said, “ I am Emmanuel, God is with you. I am El’ shaddi, all sufficient.” God was just as present and sufficient then as He is today. He sang this song to my heart last year. This year, my heart and head sing that my hope endures with the perfect Shalom of wholeness and healing. The God of today is the same God of yesterday.
God also provided a precious bracelet from a beloved family member. This bangle has engraved upon it, “the Lord is my strength and song.” I did not know why at the time, but I would absolutely never remove it from my wrist. Though my mind could not grasp its significance, the Spirit in my heart leapt with joy over the magnitude and hope of fulfillment of this statement. Over the past year, God has unfolded this truth in my life. He has given me a new song, which I sing in His strength and power. He has indeed become my salvation. He has saved me out of the jaws of death. This was the song of Moses, the song of Isaiah, and the song of the believers of revelation. This is my song. It was echoing in my heart even in that dark night. The Lord was my strength and song in the hospital bed. The Lord was my salvation when He saved me from death and when He brought me to a place of abundance. This was the bracelet that I went dumpster diving to retrieve at Mercy. It was the bracelet that I tore open garbage bags to get back. The significance and power of this statement became a lifeline for me in time where few lifelines existed.
God sent a third sign and representation of His presence in my life during the darkness. It was a framed picture. On the top, it read, “I am….”. These were the statements of who I am in Christ. My mind did not believe them as my faithful mother sat beside my bed and read them to me as I struggled into fitful sleep night after night. My heart, however, was greatly comforted and strengthened with these truths. The last statement on this framed picture is, “Christ in me, the Hope of glory.” Christ was in me, Christ was with me, and Christ was for me, and He was my only hope of glory. He was my only hope of salvation. He was my hope, my strength, my song, and my salvation. He was the Word of truth, which, though my mind could not grasp, my heart cleaved to for dear life.
“Sometimes the sun stays hidden for years, sometimes the night rains night after night. When will it clear?” My heart held to Him because He first held to me. He held my fragile, hurting, vulnerable heart in His hand. He nurtured it, sang over it, strengthened it, and encouraged it. At the time, I couldn’t see it, and even now, I cannot see it as clearly as I will when all is unveiled, but my perception did not and never will change His intimate presence in my life. My Hope endured. I look back on last year with residual twinges of pain. God is still healing. The scar may remain to remind me of God’s faithfulness. Going deeper than the twinges of pain are rays of hope, human faces of love and mercy, glimpses of His hand, and echoes of His voice, unperceived then, but oh so evident now.
Our Hope endures. My Hope is Christ. Even when I couldn’t fight for myself, He fought for me. Even when I couldn’t save myself, He saved me. He gave me a song, a bangle, and an identity that could not be taken. Let the earth quake. Our Hope remains. My hope remained, because great is His faithfulness. Steadfast is His presence. Relentless is His love.

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