CrossReads Weekly Devotional: When Thick Darkness Surrounds 3/2/2020

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by Precarious Yates

Today, I turn 43 years old. This has me meditating on one of my favorite passages of scripture:

1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 

3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…

4 …[Y]ou are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…  – Isaiah 43:1-4a

Allow me to tell the story of why this is a favorite passage.

When I was 20 and wobbling on toddler legs in my Christian walk, I called my mom because the depression I felt was so thick, it was like being stuck in a deep dark pit, with gooey sludge for walls. If you’ve ever read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and remember that dark island, the one where nightmares become real, I felt as if I was stuck on those shores with the option of either fear or drowning. I felt overwhelmed by guilt, shame, and this inescapable depression. 

And so I sat on the phone and wept as she recited these words to me from Isaiah. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine…” These words were a ray of bright sunshine into the darkness. 

There have been many times since that I have wrestled with that darkness of depression. If you have too, allow me to share something that God showed me one time in the Psalms:

He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.  – Psalm 18:9

Sometimes, for those of us who struggle with depression, all we see is darkness. All we see are thick clouds. All we feel is this unending heaviness. But just on the other side of that, right there is God! The Holy One of Israel, shining in all His radiance, is just beyond the darkness. 

Scripture shows us this in various ways. First there is the encounter Abram has with God in Gen. 15. There’s thick darkness, a smoking pot and a flaming torch. God shows Abram that even in the darkest times, He promises to be there, shining His light. 

When God delivers the 10 commandments to Moses, in Exodus 20, there is thick darkness on the mountain. But it’s there, also, that Moses encounters God’s glory (Exodus 24 & 34). 

When the Shulamite maiden in the Song of Solomon reaches the most difficult and dark part of her journey, she is asked how her Beloved would be recognized. Her first words are, “He is radiant!” Other translations say “brilliant” or “dazzling” to describe this Beloved. 

When Jesus was on the cross, there was darkness covering the whole land for 3 hours. When He died, His disciples experienced deep emotional darkness and fear. But then…

But then, Sunday came! 

Are you struggling in the darkness of depression? Throughout His word, God reminds us that He doesn’t condemn this state. He doesn’t expect us to pull ourselves out of that before He encounters us. 

He is willing to meet us where we are and carry us through it! When you pass through the waters, I WILL BE WITH YOU, and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  – Isaiah 43:2

If you struggle with depression, like I do more often than I let on, be honest about it before the Lord. And be honest with at least one friend. It’s not a sin to confess, but depression is worse when it’s hidden. Bring it into the light! “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only like can do that.” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

May you encounter the glorious light of God’s great love for you!

God bless you!

Precarious Yates

About the Author:

Precarious YatesPrecarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.

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