Darkness and Light

We live in a battleground of darkness and light. There are times when we turn away from the light, which is the love of God, and choose darkness by sinning.  Then there are times when the darkness is thrust upon our souls, and steals an element of our wholeness of mind, body, or soul, and we cannot find the light.  This upcoming Sunday’s gospel highlights why God gave the world His only Son, to bring us eternal life.  By turning from sin and–as the young man in our case study demonstrates–by persevering in prayer, the result is that with God, Who is the Victor over darkness, you always win.

John 3:14-21

Jesus said to Nicodemus:“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,so must the Son of Man be lifted up,so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Reflections from the group: 

but people preferred darkness to light…When I am struck by a temptation to be upset about something, it builds up inside me until I identify it and talk with someone I trust.  Then it is exposed (to the “light”) and dissipates. If I keep it inside (the darkness) it festers and becomes worse.

    • We are prideful as a culture; we don’t want to admit when we can’t handle something or it isn’t in our control, but rather than turn to God (with the sense of urgency of our own mortality our ancestors often felt), we turn to things that numb us and put off dealing with problems or unhealthy feelings.
    • It hurts to see our family and loved ones living in darkness; not choosing God’s love for them. It feels awful to watch them suffer and is frustrating.
  • Verdict: a strong word; it implicates us to make a choice to turn toward God, the good; turn away from evil which does exist…this is not complicated.
  • John’s language is so clear regarding good and evil; sinning and choosing God; he explains it simply and seems to say, “look, if you don’t get this…let me be really clear…”
  • For God SO LOVED the world…God does NOT want to see us hurting or suffering.  He wants us to turn to Him in love; He asks us to change our ways; He does not want to see us hurting from our own sins.
  • God’s desire for us is SO strong; we get a taste of desire when we desperately yearn for something in our lives; we can’t even begin to know the burning desire He has for each of our souls. Our own desires give us a taste of His desire for us.

Not only does this upcoming Sunday’s gospel delineate the darkness from the light; but our case seemed to identify, as our case studies of faith in the world seem to always do for us, what that element looks like as played out in human nature.

A CASE OF ANXIETY

A man, who is a musician and travels for a living, struggled for at least 10 years with debilitating anxiety.  He couldn’t go into certain places without having a panic attack, and worst of all, this condition prohibited him from forming a lasting relationship with anyone.  As soon as he got close to someone, he would panic and break it off.  He tried for years to get help and be healed.  At one point he was able to get some genetic testing and was giving the gift, he believed by persevering in prayer, of a natural medication/oil that was able to relieve his symptoms to come out of the dark enough to begin to heal.  He has done so well with prayer and natural medicine that he is now able to live a whole life, complete with a bride-to-be, as he is engaged to be married, and has a great sense of hope for the future.

Here are some of the markers we use to discuss our cases:

  • Parallel cases: What situations can we briefly share of similar situations?
  • In light of the gospel; what gospel passages remind us of what happened in this case? What did Christ say or do in these situations?
  • How does the world see it? How our culture views in contrary to how we see it through the eyes of faith?
  • What are the causes and consequences of the situation?
  • What virtues did the person/group exhibit that we can look at and imitate?
  • How do we feel we are called to act from learning about this situation?
  • What are our resolutions based on the virtue exhibited in the case?

So many of us have loved ones who are dealing with anxiety and depression, primarily children or younger friends; many of us feel there is a link between the digital world and the generation that suffers under its influences; that although it’s called “social media”, the result of seeing a “cover” photo or post of someone that seems happy, busy, or successful, is actually isolating and seems to infuse a deeper sense of loneliness, isolation or some kind of failure by comparison for many people (read post on Identity In Christ).  We all feel that a spiritual battle is being waged on our culture, in particular through the effects of anxiety and depression.  We admired the faith and fortitude of this young man to fight for healing in his life, stay close to God, and persevere in prayer.

Theological Virtue: Hope

Human Virtue: Fortitude, consistency and courage

Spiritual Resolution: Offering our morning prayer/offering and intentions for the day for someone we know who is struggling in the darkness with anxiety/depression.

Apostolic Resolution: Reach out to someone we know who is struggling with anxiety/depression and encourage them; let them know they are loved and encourage them.

*If you know someone who is suffering with anxiety or depression, please feel free to add your prayer request to the prayer intentions  by posting a comment (do not use their full name for privacy purposes).  We will pray for our prayer page intentions before Jesus in the Eucharist.

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