We all struggle. There are hard times and easy times, good and bad, but we all struggle. It might be a struggle to maintain balance between work and leisure, or between family and friends, or between spirituality and practicality. We might struggle within ouselves - with doubts fears, and challenges. We might struggle with our health; mental or physical. Whatever it may be, whenever it may occur, we struggle.
I'm struggling right now. It doesn't really matter what it is that I'm struggling with, but I certainly am struggling. Through this struggle, I find that I feel increasingly isolated, and alone. I am tempted to feel as though there is no one to share this struggle with, no one to feel drawn into, and drawn out of myself. So I turned to my painting. The image above is an expression of that struggle for me - but as always, in the midst of struggle there is hope.
In the first chapter of John's gospel, the evangelist touches on the battle between light and dark. Christ is that light, but, as John points out, that light is never overcome by the darkness. (I've always found it interesting that the same Greek word translated as overcome, can also be translated "understand".) While the light is never overcome, John does not suggest that there aren't times of greater or lesser darkness. No, in fact, John's point in telling the story is to point out that in the midst of the darkest, bleakest times of greatest struggle in the human experience, and in the real and oppressed lives of his contemporary Christians, the light of Christ still shines, regardless of the dark. The light of Christ cannot be overcome.
It is easy as I go through my struggle, or as many others go through theirs, to believe that there is no light coming in. It is as though there are times when we'd rather close our eyes to the light that is there, and ignore its illuminating power. However tempting this may be, it is not the path of the faithful. Throughout the psalms we read of the anger, sadness, and despair of the psalmist crying out to God for safety, protection, forgiveness, or vengeance. However, in every psalm, the light of hope and the praise of God breaks in, for ultimately the psalmist knows that our trust must be in Him, our maker, and our preserver.
In my painting above, I feel as though I've expressed, however falteringly, a little of that sense of hope and praise that is included in the psalms which speak of struggle and suffering. On the one side, we have the heavy weight of darkness bearing down; a weight threatening to crush us. On the opposite side the cold blue-gray of sadness like a mist waiting to wrap about us. But between them, never truly challenged or threatened by either, lies the light. The light that cannot be overcome. In this light is our help in the midst of struggle. It is there for us all. It is there in all situations. It calls to us to overcome our struggles not by plunging into despair, or giving up on ourselves, but by opening our eyes and focusing upon that light - sharp, crisp and clear - cutting through the mist of confusion, and the darkness of anger, hurt and frustration.
We all struggle. We all come to times of hurt and pain. This can never be avoided. But it is at these times that the light is often most easily found - the light of Christ - for it stands in sharp contrast with the dark in every way, and it cuts through the mists of our confusion and hurt. May God help us all to open our eyes, and look to Christ's insurmountable, incomprehensible, and indomitable light.