This morning was one of those mornings that is exhausting in a really good way. The kind of exhausted where you are tired because you used your whole heart at something. You left yourself open and let an experience touch you, and you were stretched. Changed. Deepened. You're better for it, even though you're tired from it.
Last year was tough. But in the midst of the difficulties, there were always people and moments like this, where the tired is the good kind. Where the heaviness is still heavy, but the pain isn't sharp.
In recent weeks, I've been reminded of the darkness in the world. In recent years, I've been reminded of the darkness in me. I've been seeking and searching for answers, wondering how to trust fully in the light when sometimes all I see is darkness. When I hear stories that are too gruesome for movies and when I drive through communities that justice hasn't visited in a hundred years. When I've come to believe that hope is intrinsically painful because it reminds us that our present is less than some wish or longing or ideal.
The darkness is real. I can't wish it away or have faith strong enough to make it disappear. Because my faith isn't in the disappearing. It doesn't take faith to believe in a world full of nothing but happiness. It takes blindness. Real faith stands in the dark and sees - really sees - the crushing black weight of it all. It sees the grief and the pain. It asks the tough questions. It gets angry at injustice. It doesn't turn a blind eye to try and protect the reputation of its God. A God who needs us to be blind in order for him to be God is a pretty small god indeed.
I believe those things with my whole heart. I believe in asking the hard questions, in doing the wrestling, in taking the risk to open your eyes to the pain.
But sometimes I feel the weight of it all, and I see all the darkness, and I get stuck in the pain and the blackness. I entered in, and sometimes - most times - I don't know the way out.
This morning was one of those moments of clarity that don't come so very often. One of those moments you hold onto in all the days of darkness to come. One of those defining moments that seems really small, but persists in memory because it offered something to hold onto when you really, really needed something tangible.
It was a verse. One I've heard a thousand times. One only tangentially related to today's service. One that I heard only in my spirit, but one that slammed into my heart like it was literally bouncing around inside my chest. And one that offered me hope - the kind of hope that makes the pain feel like it has a purpose.
"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5
It hasn't put it out, extinguished it, overtaken it, overpowered it. They both exist, the light and the dark. But the light has not been overcome. The light hasn't wavered.
It doesn't explain away the darkness. It doesn't cast it out of every corner. The darkness is there. But so is the light. And the light offers hope. Real, abiding, soul-stabelizing hope.
"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
I write this for myself, as a reminder for a day when I need reminding, a day when the dark feels like it's winning again. I write this to remind myself to open my eyes and heart not only to the darkness, but also to the light.