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If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” Psalm 139:11-12 (ESV)

I’m OK. 

There’s nothing to be afraid of.

There are no monsters in the closet.

These are all words I said to myself as I lay in bed at night, my 7-year-old heart pounding and my imagination running wild in the dark. Sometimes my self-talk worked. Other times? The darkness kept me frozen and afraid until I’d fall asleep in exhaustion.

Grown up now, I’m no longer afraid of monsters in my closet. Thankfully, I enjoy a good night’s sleep more often than not. But darkness still creeps its way into my life.

I’ve experienced anxiety and depression since childhood. It’s been a lifelong battle, one I’ve never fully stopped fighting.

Often, I didn’t want to reach out to God because I was ashamed of how fearful, discouraged and overwhelmed I felt. I wanted to “clean up” before inviting Him in. Believing I had to organize myself before approaching God for help, I tried to shove my messy feelings and embarrassing panic into closets so they wouldn’t show.

But I’ve learned that before I call a friend or try to convince myself not to feel how I feel, I must invite God into my mess. It’s hard. It’s humbling. Yet over and over again, He responds.

Most of the time, His response isn’t grandiose. I’ve never heard Him speak from a burning bush nor received a lightning bolt of happiness. But He shows up in friends, counselors, medical professionals and circumstances that remind me of His presence.

Usually when I seek the Lord, my depression doesn’t necessarily lift, but it will shift. In the light of His presence, shame runs away. I’m beginning to understand the depth of God’s love for me. Not because I have something to offer, but because He is that generous. I am learning that I can bring my whole messy self before God. And when I invite Him in, He simply steps over all that clutter to sweep me up into His arms of grace.

I love the lighter times in my life that have brought me tremendous joy and freedom. However, it’s the darkness of struggle that has taught me the enduring, unwavering grace of God. For that, I am grateful. He is with me in the shadows. He whispers words of compassion and care in the dark, even when I have nothing but messy feelings to offer in return.

I’ve learned that my soul’s deepest need is not for the removal of suffering, but for the presence of Jesus Christ in the midst of my suffering. And I have that. If you’ve placed your faith in Him, then you do, too.

Most of us have experienced difficult circumstances where there is no easy way out. Our first reaction might be to try to escape as quickly as possible. Or ignore it. Or organize the mess on our own. In our panic and shame, we forget that we are not alone in the darkness.

We forget what Psalm 139:11b-12a states, “Even the darkness is not dark to [Him];the night is bright as the day.” Jesus is there with us. We need only to stay still long enough to discover His presence in the places we don’t want to be.

Depression and anxiety are still a difficult part of my life, but they no longer intimidate me. I’ve learned to find contentment in the darkness as well as the light, because Jesus is with me in both.

If you find yourself in a dark place today, remember that your Savior and friend, the lover of your soul, is right next to you. You can invite Him into your mess. Jesus Christ will not leave you for a moment. He is unafraid of that which scares you most.

Jesus sees every step of the journey you’re on, even when you cannot. Trust Him to guide your steps. And because He knows this painful place as surely as He knows the light, He’s the one who will take your hand and lead you into the sunlight once more.

Dear Lord, help me trust Your love for me even when I cannot see a clear path out of my circumstances. When I find myself in the dark places of this life, show me the light of Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 8:12, “Jesus once again addressed them: ‘I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.’” (MSG)

Isaiah 41:10, “Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” (MSG)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Are there places in your life that feel messy, dark or hopeless? Cry out to God and ask Him to make His presence known.

© 2019 by Melissa M. All rights reserved.

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This Scripture came to mind as I went over this study. 

Psalm 27-30 King James Version (KJV)

27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lordis the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

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