Very Dark Indeed

I haven’t slept well in … well, I can’t remember the last time I slept well. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I managed to sleep all the way through the night. (I’m writing the first draft of this post at 1:21 am). The sleepless nights are, I think, the result of both my work in the church and the larger world. Our church family has a lot of people in pain be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. The larger world has a lot of pain, again physical, emotional, and spiritual. I’m exhausted because we’ve got so many members who are hurting and I’ve been taking that hurt on myself. I know that the fact that I rarely state my concerns publicly has led to the belief in some corners that I’m not concerned, but all my sleepless nights of late beg to differ. At the same time, because I’m now interacting with nearly everyone who comes into the office seeking assistance (roughly speaking, between 2-5 people every morning), I am far more aware of the physical, economic pain in this community. The pain I encounter in both the church and the larger world is at times almost overwhelming, but part of my job as a pastor is to walk with those who find themselves in the midst of grave difficulties.

I haven’t tried to avoid these pains, not only because I consider it part of my job description, but because I believe that in Jesus Christ, God was in the world, taking the pain of the world upon Godself. God took the pain that we ourselves could not bear all the way to the cross and then through the cross to the resurrection. As disciples of Christ, “little Christs,” as at least one author has put it, we are called to do the same, to lighten the load of others by shouldering some of their pain. We do this trusting that Christ has gone before us and emerged scathed but victorious. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (TNIV). The darkness has not overcome it, and a bright shining morning awaits us, but for now, it often seems very dark indeed.