Fear, Health, Illness, Worry

Kari’s Story: Fearing the Darkness

Eight years ago, I slowly lost all of my ability to hear. During this loss my heart grew very fearful about many things. Quite understandably, I developed a very real fear of the dark. When the sun went down or the lights went off, I couldn’t see anything or hear anything — I was instantly fearful, instantly lost.

I was embarrassed by this fear, for it seemed kind of childish. But here I was in my early 30’s, overwhelmed and disoriented by the dark, thinking, “I’m unsafe! I’m alone! No one is with me! I will get hurt! No one will help me!”

I tried telling myself, “This is ridiculous, just STOP being afraid!” But I couldn’t “just stop” — there was no subduing the beast of fear that gripped and paralyzed me.

It was about this time that I was first learning about Gospel application, so I cried out to God, “Help me! Please breathe Gospel truth into this situation in my life!”

Lord of light

So with this prayer in my heart, and my Bible open, I saw that Jesus Christ is Lord over all things. He is Creator God as written in Genesis 1:3-5: “And God said, ‘let there be light’, and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God call the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” In my fear, I needed to re-establish in my heart that God made Day and Night and He said it was good.

Scripture tells me more about who He is in relation to the darkness. Psalm 139:12 says, “Even the darkness is not dark to you, the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” I may be overcome by darkness, but not God! Darkness is as light to Him! That is who he is — He is LORD!

Darkness, fear, and sin

After I established that Jesus is Lord over all, my eyes were opened to my sin. My fear was a natural and emotional response of a difficult circumstance I was experiencing. But in my fear, I allowed sin to follow. Fear would give way to anger, isolation, and jealousy. It also led to snippy, disrespectful conversations with my family, and selfish quietness.

God used scripture like Proverbs 4:23 to warn me that I could not allow fear to excuse sinful behavior: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (NLT). Fear produced sinful habits in my heart that, left unchecked, had the power to cause more damage than hearing loss ever would.

I had to confess to the Lord all the sinful responses and habits that developed from this fear. I was not trusting Him to protect me or keep me safe in the darkness. It was a relief to unburden my heart and confess my sin to Jesus! 1 John 1:9 assures me that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus forgave me and washed me clean of these sins! Praise God!

One who understands darkness

However, I still found myself afraid in the darkness. Could my Savior understand that I don’t do it on purpose? Could my Savoir change the way I experience the darkness?

I thought of this verse in Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” This verse tells me that it’s quite possible that Jesus was tempted to doubt God’s goodness and sovereignty in the dark. I wondered, “Could he actually sympathize with this fear? As in the literal darkness, though?”

I thought through my Savior’s life here on earth, and I remembered when he was on the cross, an unnatural darkness occurred in the middle of the day. “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying…. ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:45-47).

As Jesus hung on the cross, literal darkness surrounded him. This was more than disorienting for him, deeper than confusing — it was desperately isolating, extremely scary, immensely unsafe, crushingly dangerous with fatal consequences. As he was taking the punishment for the sin and shame of the whole world, God did forsake him! The darkness was figurative, and the darkness was literal.

Ultimately, I see that Jesus my Savior faced the darkest of darkness and separation from God the Father on the cross so I wouldn’t have to. My Savior willingly died in the darkness, for me. But, it was not dark forever! Jesus rose from the dead, out of the grave at “dawn of the first day of the week” (Matthew 28:1), and defeated death and sin forever!

Facing fear through faith

Because I see what Jesus did for me in the darkness on the cross, I can face my fear with faith. When I am afraid, I do what Jesus did and call out to God in the darkness. I confront my fear with the truth of God’s word. In times of darkness I fill my mind and mouth with scripture and make that louder than my fear. I memorized Psalm 139:11-12 and would recite it aloud while walking down a dark hallway, in a parking lot, or on a nighttime drive — and instead, I would marvel at Creator God who sees all in the darkness!

In faith, I choose to focus on trusting that I am safe because He is with me. I recite, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because You are with me!” (Psalm 23:4). I don’t strive to control my surroundings or pull away in isolation anymore, for I remember that God will supply all of my needs: “For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness” (Psalm 18:28).

And I look in faith toward the future, holding out for my heavenly home where I will not be afraid of the dark anymore. My hope is specific! My future hope is Jesus; he is literally the light! In heaven, “night will be no more, they will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light….” (Revelation 22:5)!

Though I have fears, they will not control me. Though the darkness is powerful, the Light is brighter still. In the face of fear, I will surrender myself to the sovereign rule of God, fill my heart and mind with His word, and rejoice in the heart-changing, life-giving good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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