I walk out my front door almost every day before 6 a.m. I run most days, but even on non-running days, I walk. At first I dreaded going so early, especially on dark and cold days. But something happened along the way. I made friends with the dark and the cold. I made friends with early. I made friends with alone. Now I breathe deeply and feel at home in the morning darkness.
There is a phrase I would often tell my children growing up. “Happiness isn’t doing what you like to do. Happiness is learning to like what you have to do.” The Bible teaches us to be content and to be thankful and I’ve mostly found it easy enough. There’s always a silver lining, right? You can always find something to be grateful for, can’t you?
But there have been a few times in my life when I have faced a darkness that I couldn’t befriend. A darkness that sucked the air out of me. A darkness that seemed heavy with fear and evil and heartache. A darkness with no silver lining and no silver at all.
There is no learning to like some things. It seems impossible to make friends with cancer. It seems impossible to embrace and be thankful for this disease and all of its ramifications. Cancer is an enemy and we are fighting it with all we’ve got.
So what is God asking me to do?
Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
He is not saying be thankful FOR all circumstances but IN them. Be thankful–not for the darkness, but in the darkness.
So I cry out to the Creator of this darkness. I remember how He has given songs in the night. I remember how He has gently carried me in the past. I try to settle into the path instead of trying to figure it out or light my own way. I trust. I pray. I submit.
And I do it every day. In the lab, on the chemo floor, in the doctor’s office, at home. Waiting for test results, watching my daughter’s physical fight, seeing my children wrestle with fear. Trust, pray, submit.
And be thankful. Be thankful in the darkness. Notice the sparks of light along the way. Pay attention to the kindness of friends and strangers. Keep track of answered prayers. Focus on what God is doing, how He is helping, how He is carrying. Lift your eyes up to Him, the light of the world.
The darkness is what enables you to see the Light–be grateful you can see it.
God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:15)