I’m going to be honest with you. I have had a very dark week. Each day has been a struggle emotionally and physically. One minute, I’m feeling okay, the next I’m bored to the very depths of my soul, and then the next my depression has crept in and my mind becomes slow and foggy and full of negativity. I’ve had moderately bad migraines everyday since Friday. The worst thing that has gripped me this week, however, is the almost crippling anxiety that stops me in my tracks with thoughts of, ‘What will I do if something happens to Tim or one of my kids? Would I be able to get through that emotionally?’ Sleeping has been difficult, being present for my family has been difficult, doing my job has been difficult – everything has been difficult.
I’m not telling you this to evoke sympathy or to bum you out, I’m telling you this to be transparent and let those of you who may also be struggling know that you are not alone. Many of us have experienced very dark days. Experiencing a difficult day is not an indication of your level of faith, it is simply a reflection of the in-between space that we find ourselves in. We shouldn’t take these days and beat ourselves up over them; we are, after all, human, and possessed of very complex emotions.
So, the question then becomes, what do you do when you find yourself caught in a dark time? How do you continue to function and contribute and be the person that you need to be? In Ephesians 6:14-17, the apostle Paul tells us to begin each day by protecting ourselves in the full armor of God. The pieces of armor act as protection from the slings and arrows of our enemies and give us peace, fan our faith, fill our hearts with righteousness, and remind us of the promise of our salvation. Added to this and rounding out the entire ensemble is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The only weapon that we need to actually fight the enemy is God’s word, wielded like a sword, defeating the lies and half-truths of The Enemy.
We see Jesus demonstrating the power of the sword of the Spirit during his 40 day fast in the desert. Sometimes I think we tend to look at this episode in Jesus’s life as not really that bad, because after all, he was God and he also was under the protection of God, so how difficult could it have been? I would like to counter that idea with this: Jesus was fully human and suffered just as we all do. He spent 40 days completely alone with only his thoughts to accompany him. The desert was blistering hot in the day, and uncomfortably cold at night. He had no modern conveniences, no one was checking up on him, and at least for the first week, he was starving. Those conditions would certainly do me in, and I don’t think Jesus was much different than me in that regard. When Satan came to him to tempt him, he knew how to hit Jesus right where it hurt – you’re hungry, and I can feed you. You’re God, stop your suffering. You’re great, I can make the world sing your praises and give you comfort. But Jesus wields the Word of God forcefully and dexterously and uses the power of scripture to defeat Satan and in the process shows God that he can partner with the Spirit to overcome adversity.
Our weapon against the dark days is the Word. In the word, we read the following verses:
Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:6, 8
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10
Now if we are [God’s] children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:17-18
Scripture has the remarkable ability to talk to me where I am. It zeros in on my personal state, on the things that are happening in my life, and gives me guidance, clarity, and hope. It girds me against the lies of the enemy and reminds me that through it all, God loves me and seeks to protect me. On days that are dark, its words pierce through with their incomprehensible light. Scripture is God, through the Spirit, speaking directly to me, giving me the nudge that I need to keep moving forward, to trust that He’s got this, even in my doubt. Scripture is God in my hands, before my eyes, restoring my soul. In your times of darkness, turn to the Word for comfort, peace, and truth. Let the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
Has scripture helped you through the pandemic? Are there particular verses that have helped you get through? I would love to hear from you about the ways that God is speaking to you during the pandemic and about any ways that you see God calming, reassuring, or sustaining you. Comment below, or feel free to share responses with me via my email, firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you about all the ways that God has remained faithful to you these last few months.
Until I see you again,
Email Pastor Conrad:
If you haven’t already, could you give me all the names of Vineyard people whom you’ve been contacting (i.e. touching base at least 2 times since our church has gone online)? I want to make sure our people are being cared for. Also, let us know if you need one of our pastors or leaders to contact you during this season. Email Conrad at email@example.com.