On a high school color guard trip to Salem, MA our guard group stayed in a hotel by the arena we were performing at. Weird things were happening in the hotel rooms. Really weird things. There were about three different rooms in our group having ghost like activity and word was spreading fast of these happenings. So me and my roommates were getting ready for bed I was in the bathroom brushing my hair and the lights go out. Apparently I screamed and ran out of the bathroom… We could hear the other girls running out of their rooms screaming in fear. After a night of hearing about ghostly activity in the hotel… It was easy for us to be scared of the possibilities of what was happening.
Fast forward about 15 years. I’m in Rwanda with a roomful of orphan teenagers, not much older than I was during my high school guard trip. These teenagers were orphans because their parents were either killed in the genocide (some of them watched as their parents were killed) or some fled to the Congo for safety leaving their family behind. Back to the story. It was night time enough where it was pouring rain and pitch black outside… When the lights went out. These orphans have EVERYTHING to be scared of. A million thoughts could have been going through their heads. But what happened next shocked me and has left an impression on me since. They didn’t scream, they didn’t cry, they didn’t panic. They were silent. Not a scared silent… But a peaceful silent and the silence continued til the lights came back on.
What do you do when the lights go out? Are you scared? Afraid? Do you think to yourself that the world has ended? That you simply just can’t go on? That you can’t get out of bed to face the day? That you are lonely and no one understands what you are going through? Over the past 4 years I have seen many friends go through some really hard times. I could tell you individual stories of how I have watched their “lights go out”. And many times I have been inspired. Inspired because through their rough times, their faith stands strong… And our God carries them through, through parents dying of a long battle with cancer…from health struggles……through divorce… the struggles are real and hurt deep. I have often thought to myself “how can they still sing praises to God, lift their hands in worship when they are walking through so much pain, and still say that God is good and faithful?”
A month ago I learned the answer to those questions. On September 19th, my lights went out. In literally the blink of an eye… Like the world crashes down on you. One minute you are going about your day… Having breakfast at the beach… Having lunch with a friend… Driving in a car… And then it all changes. One day you know your routine, and you do it, and the next day you have to talk yourself into getting out of bed… Taking a shower… Eating. All of a sudden all of the normal stuff isn’t easy anymore. In my hurt and pain I knew exactly how my friends could still sing praises to God and proclaim His faithfulness.
After Jesus taught on being the bread of life – a teaching that can be hard to grasp – many of His disciples (in addition to his popularly known 12, Jesus had appointed around 70) decided not to continue following Him because His words were hard to accept. When this happened Jesus asked the 12 “are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter answered “Lord, to whom else would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”
In the pain and the reality that was hard to accept… there was nothing else to do but praise God. I didn’t know where else to turn. And God was so faithful. I remember standing in my kitchen last week singing “Desert Song” as tears welled up. Tears from experiencing Gods faithfulness and goodness in the midst of darkness. “All of my life, in every season, you are still God… I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship”. I have seen that in the dark, there are MILLIONS of stars that help guide the way. I have witnessed Gods faithfulness in ways I have never dreamed.
If you are living in the dark or in confusion and scary possibilities, tell God “I have nowhere else to go”, and let His faithfulness and love surround you.