He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
I quietly cried my way through the service at the church I was visiting this morning. I’m glad no one came up and asked what was wrong (maybe only an introvert can appreciate that. Most of my friends would be quick to point that out as a problem at that church!) I couldn’t have translated the tears into words at that point.
The tears were a mixture of heaviness, peace, despair, sorrow (my own and that of several friends), joy, discouragement, confusion, hope, trust, worry.
How do you explain those things and the situations causing them? Any words barely touch the heart of them. Plus, inevitably words only show one side or the other (the confusion or the peace, the despair or the hope, the heavy sorrow or the joy) and I am experiencing them all simultaneously. If I try to express both sides, I sound illogical, inconsistent and like I’m contradicting myself.
I like this church because it is quiet and because they read a lot Scripture every week. The verse quoted above was part of a longer reading from Colossians 1:1-14. Here’s what I felt and wondered as I read it:
It seems like it is often understood that being delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the Kingdom of God’s Son is mutually exclusive of ever experiencing darkness again in our lives. Sort of, “Oh no, you can’t be depressed. Don’t you know you left the darkness behind and now you are in God’s light and your life had BETTER reflect that. If it doesn’t…..”
Some of this might be tied into the semantics of darkness. I think we use it in different ways (darkness as sin vs. darkness as a time or place of discouragement, hopelessness, confusion, uncertainty) and then start to equate the two meanings as almost the same.
But what I was thinking today was that having been delivered from darkness and transplanted into the kingdom of Jesus doesn’t mean I still don’t walk through times of despair and heavy, incomprehensible sorrow, confusion and emotional darkness. But being in the Kingdom of Jesus does totally change what it means to walk through those times.
I don’t know for sure, and I’m having a hard time articulating it. But, without Jesus, the dark, heavy, despairing times are just that. What you see is what you get. But, in the Kingdom of Jesus, I walk through those things, knowing and believing that this is not all there is. Even the despair sometimes verging on hopelessness is infused with hope (even though I can’t put my finger on or see the hope clearly). It doesn’t make sense. And to those looking at me, it might not look very different. But inwardly, I know that there is a difference.
I’m crying, while being held. I’m despairing and frightened, and I feel very vulnerable and unprotected in a lot of ways. But I am safe. Not safe from the things that are frightening to me. But still safe, because of the kingdom I belong to. Nothing, no one, no hopeless situation, no judge, no job, no doctor, no trauma, no natural disaster, no one and no thing can take away what it means to me to belong to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son.
It reminds me of something I read by Viktor Frankl. He was talking to a Carmelite nun who battled with depression. The priest who was over her had told her nuns couldn’t/shouldn’t be depressed. Frankl said something like, perhaps no one could bring meaning, beauty and glory to God in depression quite like a nun could.
I wouldn’t limit it, of course, to a nun. Sometimes God shows His glory through people who radiate joy no matter what their circumstances. But, I also think sometimes God shows His glory through people who live out sadness and depression and fear in a way that is (however quietly) different because those things are being lived out, not in the domain of darkness, but in the kingdom of God’s beloved Son.