The Darkest Corners
I was sprawled out on my bed, face down, surrounded by a bucket, ice pack, Sprite, and saltines. I was working my way through the most incredibly epic stomach flu of my life. Texts and emails dinged on my phone as the rest of the world went about their day, meanwhile, I remained motionless.
I drug my face toward my phone and squinted to read my latest communication from the outside world. Friends had sent texts to check in, and emails had come from church. One was from our church worship pastor, encouraging us all to read Psalms 1 through 20. I was already queasy from just looking at my phone. There was no way I was reading anything.
I considered the idea for a moment longer, then with a flash of cognitive thought, I flipped to the audible version on my Bible app. I pushed play on Psalm 1, threw down my phone, and buried my head back into my pillow.
I went in and out of sleep, letting the words of the Psalms wash over me. Each time I woke up I tried to engage the writing of the Psalmist but they just continued to wave over me without application and before I could listen, I would be asleep again.
In one of my waking moments, I finally grasped a few words:
“My God turns my darkness into light.” (Psalm 18:28b)
I drifted back to sleep again and finally woke to see my audible Bible had talked its way through Psalm 20. I pushed pause and went back to sleep.
After two days I finally pulled myself out of bed, swallowed as many Advil as the bottle allowed, and packed up to go visit family in Iowa.
In my world, sickness, vacation, and summer break are a disastrous combination for a vibrant spiritual life. Needless to say, scripture reading and prayer were sparse over the next week; however, the words, “My God turns my darkness into light,” kept tumbling around in my brain.
Out of thousands of words in twenty chapters of the Psalms, those were the seven words I remembered from that comatose day. I firmly believed they had stuck with me for a reason, but why? As I considered them, I began to wonder if I even believed them.
No, I did believe. I always had. In fact, there were several seasons of my life where I clung to that very verse, knowing God was coming to turn what felt like neverending darkness, sadness, and depression into light.
Finally, I realized why the words clung to my brain. I used to believe them. But now I didn’t.
I knew why almost immediately. It connected back to a time I lovingly refer to as "the dark years."
I questioned the core of who I was, who God was, and whether I was really going to follow Jesus. In the midst of this, I had given up my childhood dream of working in vocational ministry.
I had believed wholeheartedly that God had turned that dark time in my life into light. However, in the last two months, as I prayed about going back to work, I had dared to ask God the question: Is now the time for vocational ministry?
I thought I could handle any answer but found myself fighting tears and deep pain when I realized vocational ministry still wasn’t a part of my future.
With that realization, a familiar dark cloud had come over me. It was just a shadow of what had been years before but sent fear shooting through me.
If God had turned my darkness into light, what was this? I thought the darkness, the sadness, and the depression were over. I thought it had all been made light, but here again was a metaphorical cloud of darkness plaguing me with those same old fears and failures.
I made myself sit down and start journaling, and I wept as I wrote the lies: “God still rejects you,” “God doesn’t want you,” “You aren’t good enough to serve Him in those ways,” “You can’t succeed at this.”
I cried for days about it. Hurt, offended, upset. Knowing somewhere in my brain that it wasn’t true but still seething towards God because of the pain.
I read Matthew Henry’s Commentary and then his concise commentary. I read the NIV, Message, and NLT versions of those words in Psalm 18. I read about darkness and light in the Bible, and then I read blogs about it. I prayed and prayed for understanding because I knew I was missing something. I wanted to believe again.
A friend had recently prayed with me that God would find the dark corners still in us and make them light. The prayer seemed significant, and as I journeyed and groped my way through the cloud, I realized that’s what God was doing in me.
The bulk of the dark night was over, but a small cloud of darkness was left, hiding with its lies in the corners of my soul. I hadn’t seen it before, but now the Spirit was gently putting light to those lies I had hidden in the darkness.
It was time to face the lies and the darkness with light. To stand face to face with it and join God to scatter the enemy and the lies that crept in my head.
Help My Unbelief
I wasn’t sure what to do next. Then someone mentioned repenting of unbelief to me. As the day passed I remembered a verse from Mark and earnestly prayed it: "I do believe, help my unbelief." (Mark 9:24).
With the repentance from my unbelief came acceptance and understanding. I stepped out of my shoes and saw things as I thought God was seeing them.
I had been acting like a child with her Father, kicking and screaming at Him because of a lie I had believed. He waited patiently, lovingly, fiercely, and full of light, ready to walk with me into that darkness. To face those lies He never wanted in my head, ready to replace them with truths.
He could deal with my anger, my forgetfulness, and my unbelief as I read those words. He knew that although I was through my dark days, I still clung to lies about how He felt about me and He wanted those lies vanquished.
The Good Father
He’s a good Father, and He continues to pursue and rescue me. As I’m ready, He opens my eyes and brings things to light that are keeping me prisoner. He was even willing to use that barely listening ear that I gave Him in the midst of sickness and busyness.
Then, He waited with me as I recognized the darkness, my sadness, my anger, my temper tantrums, and my repentant heart. He walked with me through that darkly clouded month and utterly dissolved the remaining lies, darkness, and fear.
I’m the forgetful one and God is the faithful one. He’s the patient, gracious Father, the Rescuer. I’m thankful for the dark days in my past because of the light and freedom that has come as a result of walking through that darkness.
My God turns my darkness into light. Out of all the words that washed over me while sick in bed, there was a reason those hung with me for the last month. I had stopped believing and the Spirit wasn’t going to leave me in a cloud of darkness He was going to draw me out into the light.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)
Randa Smith has had a deep love of Jesus ever since she can remember. From the time she was young she has used writing as a means to sort out her faith and pursuit of freedom in Christ. Randa also loves decorating and repurposing things to give them new life. She spends the rest of her free time with her family and friends, shopping, drinking lattes and putting in as little effort as possible to stay mildly fit. She is thankful that she gets to do all these activities and more with her husband and kids together where they share memories of living life with amazing people from Iowa, to Kansas, to Indiana.