“Weeping may last for the night; but joy comes in the morning.”
The daily liturgy of nature includes a remarkable truth. On the eastern horizon, right before the first light of day stretches its’ arm beyond the horizon, the darkness is deepest. It’s the point of night where the sun had been gone the longest. Physically, the darkness is greatest now, but according to the liturgy of the day, the darkness of morning only acts as a foil for the more brilliant light of the rising sun.
The same is true in our daily experience. Looking back across the our own life’s liturgy, how often has it been that the darkness of despair or loneliness been most severe right before the rays of hope pierced the darkness. During these times of darkness, we weep. We also pray.
I’m willing to bet we pray for deliverance. I do. I start praying for deliverance quickly. And, I over-confidently expect the sun to soon follow. Yet, often, rather than the clock reading 5am, just before sunrise, its’ often much, much earlier in the night. Hours of darkness will remain, despite my prayers. That’s where I am now.
Sure, my prayers for deliverance continue. Another prayer seems to rising from my lips.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
You ever been there?
Here’s what is beyond any comprehension. God has been there. And, this fact for me is what makes the long, dark nights survivable. Jesus, who felt true loneliness in his long, dark night, will never leave us alone to experience the same. Amazing.
Each year, in preparation for resurrection Sunday, most of the Christian world takes part in Lent. Whatever various church traditions encourage, Lent seems to be a perfect time to practice our own long, dark night. Maybe our Lent includes more frequent times of intense, focused prayer, days of fasting, or other spiritual disciplines. Maybe we shut off all media and use the time we would be surfing (or writing blogs!) to practice stillness and silence in order to see where the Holy Spirit’s light is revealing our own sins. No matter the practice, this season can be a physical way of practicing living in the dark night when the sunrise is certain to come. . . just as on resurrection Sunday, the son certainly rises.
Take heart. The sun will rise (I’m preaching to myself). The darkness of this moment will pass, and dawn will chase the darkness away. One day, the Son will come from the east and chase the darkness away. However, unlike the daily rhythm of the sun’s motion, when the Son reaches the height of noonday light, He will stop, sit on his throne leaving darkness forever unable to flood the skies with fear and pain.