Befriending the Darkness
In some respects the depression has eased—I am rarely rendered completely numb and incapable. I rarely now descend to uncontrollable weeping (though it still can happen). But in other respects it is worse; it is more continuous. There used to be periods when I felt entirely "normal," but now, even in the best of times, the darkness is a lingering presence on the margins of my mind, never wholly absent, always threatening. Is this darkness truly unending? Will it endure forever?
In Psalm 22 the psalmist cries out: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" But he also confesses God's faithfulness while knowing no relief from his distress, no light in the darkness, no break in the silence. Christ's cry of dereliction on the cross echoes the psalmist's cry, but we know that his cry was not the last word, nor the end of the story. Our cries can similarly echo the psalmist's cry, and when we struggle to express our anguish, we can make his words our own. But we cannot pray his prayer without coming to his confession, without knowing that, as an outcome of Jesus' unique suffering, our suffering and distress is not the last word. We do not suffer alone and our suffering cannot possibly be final or ultimate.
The Son of Man has suffered, and nothing, not even our despairing desolation, can ever be quite the same again.
Excerpted from Why Have You Forsaken Me? (Cascade, 2012)
John E. Colwell is Minister of Budleigh Salterton Baptist Church, Devon and Honorary Research Fellow at Spurgeon's College, London.
Copyright © 2013 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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