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A few mornings ago, I drove to work in the pitch black. Before the sunrise had time to peek over the Appalachian mountains around me, it was a cool, crisp, scene. But within the darkness was a stillness. A calm before the storm that shook my roots. An eerie feeling that while I wasn’t the only one on the paved road in front of me, I felt utterly and deeply alone.

Peering over my steering wheel, a dense fog swarmed my vision. I knew other cars were on the road with me, but I certainly couldn’t see them. I could barely see the narrow yellow lines in front of my car. Nevertheless, I coasted on the highway until I made it to my destination. A sigh of relief escaped my lungs as I began to breathe again. The gentle sun peaked its way from behind the clouds as if it had been there all along. 

Guiding the way. 

Because it had.

I simply needed to remember that behind the darkness there is always a brighter light.

A well-lit place.

Waiting to pierce through the shadows of our darkest night.

The Darkest Night

In Proverbs 28:13, the Scriptures remind us that whatever hill or valley we are walking through, we must remember to bring it to the light. That there is beauty in bringing your dark places to the Lord, no matter where you are at. 

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13, New International Version).

The Passion interpretation coins it this way:

“If you cover up your sin you’ll never do well. But if you confess your sins and forsake them, you will be kissed by mercy” (Proverbs 28:13, The Passion Translation).

While my morning commute to work is certainly not sinful, there have been times in my life when I carried around burdens in the dark, too afraid to expose them. My darkest night then lasted seven years. My darkest night now has lasted three.

A Seven-Year Struggle

As a student in high school, I was a master of hiding dark places—those in reality and those in my heart and mind. 

When my family began to crumble beneath my feet, I searched for a way to cope. Being the second parent of my home at age fourteen produced more trauma than I knew how to handle. But I thought I was strong enough on my own. And although I was a Christian, I believed the lie that if I kept my struggles behind closed doors, they would be safer there.

Behind closed doors, my mind thought excessive exercise was healthy. My malnourished brain convinced me that if I could control my eating and running, it didn’t matter that everything around me was out of control. My fatigued soul turned to lying and cheating because it felt secure. The weary heart within me truly believed this coping mechanism was safe. 

Yet things that remain in dark places only breed evil things. Not because the dark is inherently bad or sinful, but because things that need to be brought to the light remain stagnant and potent if left there for too long. And this is why Jesus says in James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, New International Version). 

My Struggle Now

But for some of us today, our dark places are not sinful or self-produced. They are instead the result of living in a fallen world or living with past results and consequences.

After I gave my dark situation to the Lord, I felt like He took it from me. Never again did I exercise behind closed doors or intentionally skip meals. 

I stopped lying and cheating. 

I told the truth. 

And I was set free. 

As Jesus said in John 8:31-21:

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32, English Standard Version). 

But although I’ve received freedom from that struggle, dark places still haunt me; they just look different than they did when I was fourteen.

Dark Places That Won’t Cease

For the last three years, I have written extensively about my health issues. About my inability to function properly due to various medical conditions. But in 2022, I have faced more mountains than I know how to climb. More dark places that will not cease and continue to grow. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Check.

Endometriosis? Check. 

Subclinical Hypothyroidism? Check.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis? Check.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder? Check.

Severe Depression? Check.

Stress? Double Check.

Fatigue? Triple Check.

But you know what? By bringing those things to the feet of my Savior, as I am, I begin to see a well-lit place. I can confess that I am not okay, and know it is okay that I am not. I can acknowledge that the things confessed to the light and renounced (asked for help to change), receive grace and life. 

For even if and when the dark places won’t cease here on earth, I can look forward to an eternity where they certainly won’t be. A place with no more sorrow. No more tears. No more pain, illness, or diagnosis. No more dark places, for they have all been all brought to the light. 

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4, New International Version). 

I look forward to the day that I will be healed body, mind, and soul. But while I am here on this earth, I will not grow weary that my healing could still come. And as hard as it might be, I have to hold onto hope. 

Onto faith. 

Onto love. 

Onto the belief that my God loves me in the dark places as much as the light ones. 

And those who search for the light will always find Him. 

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Psalm 139:7-12, New International Version). 

Agape, Amber