My struggle with darkness, pain and meaninglessness seems to ebb and flow these days, often triggered or brought to the surface by people or events, but sometimes unprovoked. The last 4-5 days I have felt more of it than in a while. It usually happens this way: I’m thinking about Jesus, my life, or trying to connect to others and suddenly I feel overwhelmed by an intense pointlessness to my life, and a despair that it will ever change.
This morning as I was in this “pointless place” in my quiet time (can’t we find a better term??) I felt the Spirit whisper, “you are united with Christ.” I know it had to be the Spirit because it was so foreign to the organic flow of my own thoughts, which is often how I experience God’s voice. As I reflected on this, I realized that being united with Christ means (among other things) that the emptiness, the seemingly meaningless pain that I so often feel can find a home within my union with him.
I immediately remembered a dynamic I experience with my immediate family. No matter how bad I feel, how pointless my life seems, I can (usually) come home and be present to my wife and children in very basic ways. I have long given up on being “intentional” or “missional” in my home and in my marriage, simply because I lack the strength to even start. But, what I can do I try to do: hold my kids, allow myself to love and be loved by them. What a precious gift! In this gift I see what the Spirit is saying to me – that it is possible for my “meaningless life,” all my darkness and pain to be eclipsed by the love that I share with my wife and kids. I am united with them in that moment, in mutual love (not that there aren’t times when loving each other isn’t a difficult choice – I’m just speaking generally). In this picture I see what the Spirit is whispering – that if there is a refuge of love with my family, how much more with Jesus.
Speaking in ultimate terms, I can’t take my pain and darkness to my wife and kids (or any other human) and be healed, filled or at peace. Only with Jesus is there a safe place for my pain, only with him is my empty pain really, truly and consistently eclipsed by infinite love and compassion. With other people, my pain can easily eclipse and dominate the relationship and wreck it – with Jesus that’s not possible!
So, following the Spirit’s lead, I remind myself today that I am united with Christ; his fullness is more than enough for my emptiness, his healing touch more than enough for my pain and strong feelings of rejection and abandonment. Even more, he actually bears my pain, carries my sorrows in a way that is redemptive and glorifying.
I can’t wreck Him, but his love wrecks me.