As a little boy, I remember looking under the bed. Some guys will never confess this. I also remember needing a night light. In the darkness my eyes, my thoughts, and everything that God put within me to be creative worked against me not for me. It is not what God intended. But it was the reality of my humanity. What am I saying...it continues to be a part of my humanity. It is hard to admit such a struggle.
When we are confronted with news of illness, our creativity works against us. We begin to think ahead and assume some things that may or may not be true. A pastor makes a hospital visit and finds a family member stressing while waiting. The creative mind that God has given us to know God's people and God's presence has gone awry. There is no peace that passes understanding. There is panic and anxiety. There is isolation and loneliness. There is darkness that is all consuming.
I have experienced that darkness. In some regard we all have. What am I saying....I, we all, will experience it again at some time in our journey.
In our experience of darkness, great harm can come to us and others. We have the ability to do great harm to ourselves and others. Do you realize that on an average, every 13 minutes a person does great harm to self and others. They let the darkness consume them and overcome them. Life comes to a tragic end. Suicide does great harm to many, not one.
The tragedy does not end there. Our society will talk about most anything else than the reality of the tragedy. Do not talk about darkness, suicide, and depression. It will go away. No it doesn't go away. It continues every 13 minutes. It consumes more of God's children. The more progressive a culture is, the more often it happens. Progressive cultures have not time to deal with those who are perceived as weak or losers.
Maybe it is a call for us to regress as a culture. Maybe it is a call for to admit our humanity. Maybe in order to value all of life, we all admit our struggle with darkness at some level. And as we invite this conversation to the public square, we give birth to a new compassion for all in any darkness.
My friend, Tracie, gave great insight into our world when she said, "Never mistake funny people for happy people!" Our world loves to mask the reality of the pain of the soul---humor, work, and even success. On the outside the mask makes one look great. On the inside darkness consumes.
Years ago, the streets were lit by streetlights that were constructed with a candle in a box high above the street. Each night a man would go down the main street of the community lighting the candles that gave light. One evening a little boy looked out his window to see the man lighting the candles. Without a moment's thought, the little boy exclaimed to those around him, "Look, there is a man poking holes in the darkness."
May we do the same in our world. Do not let darkness consume you or anyone else!
Pray for me as I pray for you.
In the Master's Name,
Dr. M. Jack O'Dell