It’s Always Darkest before the Dawn
Welcome to Holy Week! I wish I could say it’s all pastel-hued easter eggs, bunny tails, and Cadbury eggs from here. But that’s not reality. That’s not how the story was written. That’s not how our story is being written. Part of being human is finding oneself on the edge of the abyss, covered in utter darkness, dangling by the last remaining fiber of hope….struggling, fighting, persevering, until finally, the light of dawn breaks through again in our lives. “It’s always darkest before the dawn”… is a lyric penned by one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Florence Welch, of the British band, Florence and the Machine. It speaks so beautifully to the reality of faith.
We read in the gospel of Mark that a darkness covered the entire land in the days of that fateful first Holy week. Jesus, the representative of all humanity, found himself in a place of utter despair, brokenness, bone-chiling fear, and silence from God. Looking out from the cross, he muscled out the words, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
These words ring out in our ears and they frighten our hearts. Where was God then? Where is God now? So often we are met with Divine Silence. We hurt, we weep, we struggle to breathe, to understand, to put one foot in front of the other. This life has the power to break us, to wound us so deeply that we curl up and beg for the darkness to swallow us. Henri Nouwen likens the ‘cross’ moments of our lives to the Grand Canyon…deep incisions that cut brutally into the surface of our existence. Nothing is as frightening as reaching a place where you begin to doubt if God is with you. I know Jesus’ words from the cross are as dark as they come. But held within those final words is living hope in the flesh.
Jesus hung, his flesh ripped through, his dignity shattered, his inner light flickering with every painful inhale and exhale, and yet he still called out to God. He never doubted that God was still there with him. That is living in Hope—fiercely hanging onto God at one’s darkest.
Never be ashamed to call out… My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? These are words of courage, perseverance—a relentless faith. These are the words that saw Jesus and will see us through the darkest, rawest moments of our humanity. The path that leads us through the loss, the fear, and the hurts of holy week is the same path that we are each called to walk over and over again in our lives. We mustn’t succumb to despair. The thorns, the nails, the betrayals, the wounds to body and spirit are sadly part of Jesus’ story and inevitable to our own stories. But if we allow the darkness to win, we miss the blessings that await us, the little resurrections, the future chances for God to infuse our lives with meaning, purpose, and love.
Live in Hope,