When The Night Closes In

They say, “The Lord does not see;

the God of Jacob takes no notice.”

Psalm 94 begins amid the harrassments and taunts of the oppressors to the persecuted. ‘Your God does not see you. The God of Jacob? He doesn’t even notice your pain.’ These jeers are presented as declarative statements; lies stated as facts..as if the mere act of just proclaiming them makes them true.

And isn’t that always the case? What you hear in your mind when hope feels like a fleeting flicker sounds exactly the same; equally as triumphant, but equally untrue.

For those of us who are believers but have lived the dichotomy of being children of the Light who are plagued by mental illness–an illness that in and of itself is a relentless black hole afflicting the mind for a multiplicity of reasons (both environmental and physiological)–these taunts are no strangers to our faith, sometimes daily.

In this passage, the biblical setting for these bold falsehoods is physical and circumstantial in nature–God’s people were being persecuted beyond verbal assaults; their persecution was external–but their plight is not without timeless spiritual implications for us. These are words that resonate deeply when the night of despair is closing in and wanting to blanket us with the same sentiment, for the same outcome: to believe our God has abandoned us. And those are questions that beg for a reassurance.

Thankfully, God’s word is alive and fully able to provide comfort.

Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?

Does he who formed the eye not see?

When I first stumbled upon these verses in Psalm 94 several years ago, I couldn’t help but read them over and over again. They seemed to me to be brilliant and peace-producing…the parallels presented for me to think about.

He hears me and sees me. He made me; ‘fashioned’ me, better yet. And there is not only peace that comes from knowing this, but there is an invitation to see the justice in the injustice I feel when I’ve felt unnoticed in the dark night of the soul.

Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?

No, He does not. My deepest troubles–in whatever form they may appear–are not puzzles to The Master from whom knowledge was birthed.

None of this is easy to remember or grab a hold of when you are but a shell of your former self, misunderstood, stigmatized, unable to function, and spiraling dangerously into a darkness that seems as if to consume you whole. Such descriptions might sound dramatic to some, but some pains can only be communicated by metaphors. Mental illness is one of those afflictions.

I never know who might be reading my blog on a given occasion. This month–as Mental Health Awareness Month comes to an end–I might very well come across the feed of someone who is prepared to end their life.

If that’s you, read on:

Get medical attention. And if you are a believer, don’t over analyze and scrutinize help. The bible says that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of Lights in Heaven. This will be for your good. Consider it as such and KNOW that it comes from His hand as help for you.

If you are not yet a believer, begin to trust in Jesus and His wisdom…and, who knows, maybe not all at once just yet. Just take all your questions and ask them upward. God is faithful to answer and to lead you to His truth. He is not a band-aid for your pain, though He is known to do some uber remarkable things. But He will be for you…and you can’t have anyone better in your corner.

Here’s the beauty of being a Christian: in the darkest pain, when the night is closing in, all the bad you feel against you is somehow simultaneously forging in you perseverance, character, and hope. No pain is wasted in God. That is His way of bringing about good.

So build your hope however slowly that happens. Remember that you have (or can have) a solid anchor in Christ… start there. You have a million questions right now, and most of them probably put God in a bad light…you’re not understanding any of this.

Does He not notice? Is He good at all? That might be your feeling.

But you are loved. One way I used to hold onto something tangible when fighting depression was to think about a field of flowers….creations of color and beauty that were made for the sole purpose of bringing me (us) joy upon examining them; a multitude of rainbow kisses from heaven.

This may all sound silly, but begin to look OUTSIDE of you as opposed to falling deeper into yourself.

C’mon. Get up.

Take a shower, it helps, I promise you.

Eat something enjoyable.

Take a walk and pay attention to your breathing pattern…think about the miracle that is constantly happening inside of you: the pumping of your heart.

You have purpose.

You have the value of being treasured by God.

You have to push through, get help, and begin to repair your ailing hope, even if AGAIN.

Start there.

Healing and grace–in many forms–will soon follow as every night eventually bursts into glorious day.

Unless the Lord had given me help,

I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.

When I said, “My foot is slipping,”

your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.

When anxiety was great within me,

your consolation brought me joy.

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