You Stepped Down into Darkness: Suffering & Psalm 44

December 12, 2017

Loss and Mystery

This week my hometown community lost someone very special-my childhood pastor, my only pastor, really. A man who was exceedingly loving and kind and passionate. He devoted his life to his church and to his faith. His family was a pillar in the faith community. He was the type of father a fatherless daughter couldn’t help but envy.

When I finally allowed myself to feel the loss it came in waves. My sadness and heartbreak turned into confusion- How? How could this happen to someone who was so faithful? If anyone deserved healing it was this man. If any family deserved a miracle it was this family.

This loss came on the heels of a rather rough few weeks for me. You may have noticed I’ve missed a few scheduled posts. Been a little absent. A little off the radar. I’ve brushed it off as “being in a funk”  or “seasonal depression”- and that’s probably part of it. But underneath that is something more.

This suffering is getting to me. Whether its close to the heart like a pastors passing, on a national scale in politics, or globally-  I’ve felt a deep darkness settle on my heart. A heaviness.

I’m usually in my head, in my safe place of theology and reading, and figuring things out. Rarely do I let myself go down into my heart, because that’s where the scars are. Because sometimes, if I’m honest, it feels like God just doesn’t show up anymore. I look around and see the suffering and feel lost. And I don’t know what to do with that. It’s the suffering of #metoo, ridiculous tax plans, and a new act of national terrorism monthly. Right now, it doesn’t feel like love trumps hate. It doesn’t feel like faith trumps suffering. It’s less to do with my own personal pain, and more about what’s right and just in the world.

I just don’t get it sometimes.

A Psalm for the Heartbroken and Lost

Sitting in my apartment, shedding tears for a family I grew up with, shedding tears for all ways I feel lost, I turned to the Psalms. I did not look for coffee tumbler quips or tweetable fluff, but for those few Psalms of David’s anger. The verses that rage against the Mystery of God. Based on a  post by a dear friend and spiritual guide, I set about writing my own inspired rage. Pouring into it the weeks of darkness and abandonment.

 

 A Psalm for the Heartbroken and Lost: Inspired by Psalm 44

 

God, with my own ears I have heard what others have said about you.

How you came to their rescue and healed their sick.

You, with your own hands, sent illness away where it had taken root

And made the sick flourish once more.  

 

It was not by their own power,

Nor science alone;

It was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face.

For you loved them.

 

You are Creator

You are the Universe unfolding in our favor

It is with You we overcome

Our anxiety, our trauma, and our pain.

 

do not put my trust in self-help books or politicians

I know inspirational tweets and infographics will not bring me victory

It is You.

 

It is in the Ultimate Power

In Father, Mother, Infinite Unknown

That I have boasted all day long

Forever seeking more of the Mystery.

 

But now-

But now-

 

You failed to come through.

And oh how I thought you would.

 

Have you kept your help from us to humble us?

Have you turned your back?

Prayers have gone

Unanswered

Unheard

Disregarded

Disgraced

 

You did not come to the rescue.

Even though we have not forgotten you

Decades of lives lived following Your call  

Hearts had not turned back

feet had not strayed from Your path.

 

But you –

But you-

 

You crushed the hope

You covered it over with deep darkness

All the while knowing we were earnestly praying

Knowing we had mountains of faith

And trust

 

Why should I keep putting my heart in your hands

Like a sheep to the slaughter?

 

Where is the comfort I have heard of?

Don’t you care about what happens to my heart?

Do not leave me alone in this misery and heartbreak.

 

I am on the ground, confused and cursing.

Covered in darkness

Once again wondering “why?”

Trying to make sense of suffering.

 

Show up.

Show up because of your unfailing love.

Rescue my heart with the light of Your face

Light of the World, You Stepped Down into Darkness

I was going to end this post here. Pretty raw, pretty vulnerable,  “I know it ain’t pretty but thats what I got”.  But while writing this I was listening to Spa Radio on Pandora (judge me if you will). I was also texting my friend looking for an objective, rational answer to my pain.  “You can’t think your way out of pain but you may be able to worship you way out like Job and David.”

 

…and not 5 minutes later.

Not 5 minutes after typing:

“Show up.

Show up because of your unfailing love.

Rescue my heart with the light of your face”  

 

Not 5 minutes after raging against Mystery and suffering and pain, “Here I am To Worship” came on the radio. On my Spa Radio station on Pandora. My usual crystal bowls-rain sounds-ocean waves-hippy dippy, radio station suddenly played an early 2000’s worship song. A song I sang hundreds of times at the very church with the pastor who just passed.

 

“Light of the world

You stepped down into darkness

Opened my eyes, let me see

Beauty that made this heart adore You

Hope of a life spent with You”

 

I’m not a person who reads into things like this. I’m just not. I grew with a sincere aversion to stories like this. I mean come on. But when you are re-building your faith, when your traditional box of how God works has been shattered, I don’t know. If God can through a donkey, maybe God can talk through internet radio. I stared at the screen dumbfounded as the song finished and the station went back to playing ocean waves.

Mystery, and suffering, and pain, and loss, and confusion, and abandonment, and trauma, and shame, and guilt, and, and, and… It goes on. I know it goes on. I know we are all at some point on the ground confused and cursing and covered in darkness begging for something, anything to show up.

And one song on the radio doesn’t prove anything.

But maybe, if you let it, it does.

Maybe, when we chose this dance of faith we see how the Great Unknowable steps down into darkness just to be with us. We see death as the end of suffering, as a mercy. We see the thousand small ways people show up to help after a disaster. We see homes rebuilt, people fed, children adopted, family forgiven. We see friends who love, flowers that bloom, and books that save. Maybe we start to see the Light. 

 

I’m not naive. A mystical moment doesn’t negate global suffering. But maybe if I let it, my eyes can be opened to see the beauty all around, inside the suffering and out.

 

If nothing else, I don’t feel quite as abandoned in suffering as I did before.

 


Be part of the family and stay up to date by subscribing:

You Might Also Like

8 Comments

  • Reply Lawrence Flaws December 12, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Beautifully written. I appreciate your openness and vulnerability.

    • Reply alyseelin January 20, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      Thank you, this means so much.

  • Reply Silent January 19, 2018 at 11:09 am

    we all lose our faith now and than, and yes there is a lot of suffering all over the world and maybe it will never completely end but a single act of kindness can make a huge difference. I am a negative person myself and I show people the bad things that happen around us that we might not notice but I tell everyone equally to not only look at the bad things in life to look at the beauty that there is in life. I believe god gives is hardest battles to the strongest of his soldiers, there are plenty of times when I have renounced my faith in god because of the things happening in my life I have been alone in complete darkness, my soul is black but in the end god shows me to keep going and everything will be fine later on… I help people from time to time I am not a nice person but I know right from wrong, I only help people who I see are innocent as in they have a good heart but if I see their heart to be the same as mine all cold and dark within I never step in even if they need help because I know they are not good people maybe its a wrong way of serving god but it is my way. I hope everyone keeps their heads up and no matter they are going through never lose their faith in god for he will always be by your side no matter how lost you think you are.

    • Reply alyseelin January 20, 2018 at 4:32 pm

      Thank you for sharing. Yes, it is so true – life is being lost and found again and again. And in all suffering we can see love, and hope, and redemption. I challenge your view of yourself as cold and dark. There is light even in the hardest of hearts, and just reading how you still find love to help others shows me that you are not as far gone as you may believe. As you say God is on your side “no matter how lost you think you are”.

      Love,
      Alyse

      • Reply Silent January 27, 2018 at 11:32 am

        I have been meaning to reply to this but I thought it would be better if I took some time and decided on how to respond. I took the time and did as you asked me to, looking back at the old me I was once kind hearted and had love for many things such things as art, nature, friends, and other small things that don’t seem to matter but can still make a difference. Even after that I still stand my ground as I described myself. my own words were used against me but I also said I know right from wrong which has nothing to do with LOVE. I am participating in relay for life as a team captain, the reason I am doing this is to help others not because I feel an emotion as love towards people who I do not know. your reply to my last comment really made me rethink my life and… I don’t know I don’t feel like the old me who would care about others but at the same time now I don’t feel like that part of me is completely gone… I will keep doing what I am doing and I hope over time I can clearly see who I am.

        • Reply alyseelin February 7, 2018 at 3:58 pm

          “Over time I can clearly see who I am” —- Yes. This is so true. Ups and downs, and right and wrong, and suffering and healing. We are not set in stone, but instead constantly evolving and changing. I am no where near who I was a decade ago, and hopefully I’ll continue growing for the next decade. I think the key is to surround yourself with people who will help you are you grow and figure out who you are, and not hinder you or slow you down. My absolute best, and my love to you, my dear. Always.

  • Reply Great Suffering and Great Love: The Tension of Faith – This Winter Woman January 23, 2018 at 8:58 am

    […] been a few weeks. Some time has past between a time of sadness and now. And my 5w6 Enneagram type, my first born A+ student compulsion, and competitive Type A […]

  • Reply IF: Gathering 2018 – Jennie Allens’ vulnerable confession of doubt – This Winter Woman April 25, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    […] resonated so deeply with me. As I’ve said before (and before, and before. Geez girl, find a new soap box, amIright?) suffering sends me sinking swiftly into darkness. A […]

  • Leave a Reply