I have heard some Christians say that their happiest times are when they are suffering because it is in the furnace of affliction that they feel the presence of Christ the most deeply. This has not been true in my case. Depression has visited me on a monthly basis for more than thirty-five years, and looking back over a lifetime littered with its devastating effects, I confess that I have rarely felt Christ’s presence during those dark times.
The only way to escape the agonizing pain I suffered in that dungeon appeared to be total darkness (death). “Rescue me from this miserable existence!” was my frequent plea to heaven.
But that prayer was met by silence, soul-slaughtering silence. I was alone in the blackness. “My God, my God,” I cried, “why have you forsaken me?”
A gem of truth from the Word of God has recently turned my thinking upside-down. It has taken a lifetime for me to realize (yes, some people are a bit slower than others…) that during those times when I felt abandoned and Christ seemed so far away, He was clinging firmly to my hand. He never let go. Christ has promised in His Word, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5) and He never did. “…He is faithful that promised” (Hebrews 10:23).
So, here are the verses that opened my eyes to His amazing grace:
“The people kept their places far off, but Moses went near to the dark cloud where God was” (Exodus 20:21, Bible in Basic English).
“The Lord chose to live in a dark cloud” (2 Chronicles 6:1, Easy to Read Version).
“And ye drew nigh and… there was darkness, blackness, and tempest” (Deuteronomy 4:11, Brenton Greek Septuagint Translation).
I could hardly believe what I was reading — the Lord lives in a dark cloud! My Jesus inhabits the darkness! By choice! So when I prayed for the Lord to remove the darkness from me, little did I know I was praying for Him to remove His Presence from me. When I prayed for Him to remove me from the darkness, little did I know I was praying for Him to take me from my safe place in Him! When a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings, it’s pretty dark under there, isn’t it? Horror of horrors, I was asking to leave the warmth of His wings!
Thankfully, He neither removed the darkness from me nor removed me from the darkness. Instead, He came near and gently covered me with His wings — protecting me, shielding me, comforting me, providing refuge in the very midst of the depression. The darkness, which felt like an unrelenting curse, was the precious blessing of Himself, His sweet Presence, the covering of His wings. Jesus gave me the gift of darkness beneath His healing wings to hide the black night of my soul. Although I didn’t feel it, He was so near during those times of hopelessness that He could have smothered me under His feathers! I praise you, my Savior! The darkness was not a curse but a gift, an abundant blessing!
Now if the dark cloud descends, I can know that His feathered wings surround me with His blessed Presence, and I welcome Him. There is a sweet silence now, a stillness, a special serenity, in that place of refuge. Even when it is night in my soul, especially when it is night, I choose to remain under His wings and to live in the Light, claiming the promise of His glorious Word: “In Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).