It’s great to have Liz Carter back today. If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, you really should. Liz’s honesty and openness is such a blessing. Here she is with the second part of her post on Light and Dark.
It’s good to be back 🙂 I finished yesterday, by saying, the more I dig into Scripture, the more I find the most starkly honest writings there poured out for all to see, overflowings of emotion and anger and sorrow spilling onto the pages – most of the prophetic writings are like this and the Psalms are full of songs of lament as much as songs of praise.
It seems to me that we are on dangerous ground if we insist that we must keep our own darkness hidden in the darkness, because that is not the biblical model.
Biblical writers craft their words with honesty and authenticity. They tell it how it is. They do not tell us that there will be no suffering in the Christian life, nor do they tell us that the Christian life will be blessed with health and wealth and no pain. In fact, if anything, they tell us the opposite. Paul tells us that he lived in hardship and persecution, suffering for Christ and with Christ – and his words are full of the profound mystery of the intersection of brokenness and the peace of God that passes all understanding. The Psalmists wrote of isolation and imprisonment, of sickness and danger. And in the centre of it all we have Jesus, a man of sorrows who knew the great depths of suffering like no other.
I always think it would be so hard to follow a faith where the deity remains outside of our understanding and experience. Christianity is unprecedented among faiths in that God became one of us and sunk into our pain and mess with us. The incarnation points to the beautiful and complex intricacies of the fingerprints of God amongst us; a God willing to lay aside all his majesty and fall into the dust, to suffer and die, to take all our pain and sin and mess upon his body. It is a mystery that cannot be contained in words, but a mystery bursting at the seams with hope and life, and one that speaks loud into our own agonies like nothing else.
And this, ultimately, is what lights our path ahead; the knowledge that God is not far away, but is with us by his Spirit and in his experience of broken humanity. On days I have nothing left I can only look back to God, as the Psalmists so often did in their wretched poems of sadness and yearning. I can still choose to ‘yet praise’ within the days of trouble.
This winter will be long and bleak, and bleaker still for some of us, for many reasons. But winter ends in a glorious awakening, and God reminds us of that in a love song:
‘See, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone.’ (Song of Songs 2:10)
One of my poems from my new book incorporates this theme, and so I would like to share a few words from this poem with you today, with the prayer that God will speak to the deep places in you and flood you with a hope wider, deeper, longer and higher than you could ever imagine:
Oh hasten the day
when death flees away
when the winter of mourning
melts to joy in the morning,
when bleak shadows are drenched
in the glory of your dazzling light,
when darkest places and worn-down wastes
are crushed in the power of outrageous grace
The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone,
find love that is deep and love that is long
find immersive light and ageless depths
find crazy love in inexorable breadth
Oh hasten the day
when night flees away.
Treasure in Dark Places is a collection of poetry and short stories which are re-imaginings of biblical accounts and encounters with Jesus that take the reader into the heart of the stories, where you yourself can experience and encounter the God who loves you, and where you will find resonance and comfort in your own struggle.
Click here to see the trailer video
Liz Carter is a writer and poet from Shropshire who likes to write about finding gold in the mess of life. She is the author of Catching Contentment: How to be Holy Satisfied (IVP) and her new book, Treasure in Dark Places: Stories and poems of hope in the hurting, is out now.