Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
As I wrestled with the darkness within and observed the encroaching darkness without, I could not help but think of John's words, ". . . God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5b). I thought of how the light makes all things visible. I see shades of green, a splendid riot of color, contrast and color and charm. None of that exists in the dark. Instead, muted by the absence of light, even what is hideous and horrible can be mistaken for loveliness... and much that is lovely could be misrepresented or overlooked entirely. The light reveals both beauty and decay; it both exposes and reveals. Without the light, I would be stumbling blind, hoping to find my way through the landscape of life that seems now serene, now menacing, but never known.
With great chagrin, I have to admit that, despite these ruminations the darkness--my nemesis since my youth--won out for a time. I was crippled and I did stagger about filled with sorrow, doubt, and a general instability of my own self-image. Rather than taking every thought captive to obey Christ, for a time every thought seemed captive to myself, crying out in the murk of an inner twilight. I was caught up in despair, feeling foolish and insecure. To make matters worse, this very element of despair became a tool with which I would proclaim, "See how ridiculous I am, how utterly incapable of even the simplest act of obedience?" and in the dark, my failure seemed about to consume me.
Fortunately for me, God has given me a "lamp for my feet and a light to my path," and when the darkness became thickly smothering and oppressive, I opened that Book and reminded myself what was important. Not me--neither triumphs nor failures nor any other thing I do is too colossal for God. I may make a fool of myself from time to time, but He is greater than the greatest of my folly, and He has promised that He will always be there for me. Even in the valley of deep darkness, He is there though I may have allowed the darkness to obscure my vision for a time. He walks with me even there, ready to shine His light on my path if only I will ask for it.
He illuminates more than my path. His light shines into my self-absorption and exposes it for what it is: sin, pure and simple. It is nothing more than pride gone awry, for self-loathing is self-focus as much as self-exaltation ever was. Once His light showed the true colors inside, I had the choice before me that we all make whenever we stumble: Repent and turn back to Him or plug my ears and blind my eyes willfully and run headlong into the darkness. I very intentionally chose repentance, for there is nothing but misery and horror in that darkness without Christ. I walked there many days of my youth, and even when it creeps in and tries to overtake me, I will never be a slave to that furtive and cowardly thief of joy again. My joy is in the Lord, and when the darkness looms, I will always ask, as David once did, "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in despair within me? Hope in God, for I will again praise Him!"
For you see, though darkness may come to call as my enemy of old, that liar called Depression, it cannot lay a firm hold on me. I belong to the Light, and when those frigid fingers begin to worm around my heart, I am reminded to cry out to Him for help and to praise Him for the redemption He has already effected. I am no longer in darkness. I am a child of the Light!
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.