Don't Give Up
Hi and welcome once again to the Chaplain’s Corner. Here we are already into the third month of 2011. I started seeing the grass greening and growing about the third week of January.
Last month I attended a three-day seminar presented by the Concerns of Police Survivors called “Traumas in Law Enforcement.” It was geared a lot towards administrators, chaplains, and emotional support staff. There was a lot of good information shared, but one particular sentence really jumped out and stayed with me. That sentence came during the session on police suicide. It was just a simple statement: “Police officers don’t kill themselves because they want to die, but because they feel they have nothing to live for.” As I was perusing my past columns for the month of February, I came across this one from several years ago, and it just seemed to fit with that sentence from the seminar. From 2004:
I’ve been pondering for some time now what to talk with you about during this ride-along. A lot of thoughts have come and gone, but the “funny” thing that got my attention as to what to share this month happened when I was walking my dog tonight. We had been having some stormy weather today, but we went out late as we usually do, and it wasn’t raining. The “funny” thing happened when we got to the end of the driveway. When I got there, I turned back around and faced the west and the darkness was … almost tangible. The porch lights from the house were hidden from where I stood, and the heavy storm clouds blocked out or soaked up all the light. It was a very eerie feeling. I could shine my Streamlight around and see where the beam fell, but if I turned it off, the darkness was overwhelming. I was reminded of the Bible when it speaks of the outer darkness – a place where despair reigns, and a place I don’t want to end up.
When Sparky and I went out a couple of hours later, the clouds were gone and a million stars were shining. I could look up and see Orion right overhead. I still had my Streamlight so we wouldn’t have any accidental encounters with skunks, but the heaviness I had felt earlier was gone. The moon wasn’t up yet and the sun was still on the other side of the planet, but the night was now tolerable.
It was then that I knew that at least one of my readers may be, figuratively speaking, at the end of the driveway on that first walk. The darkness is deep and intense, bringing them to the point of despair. The message that I bring is: there is still Hope. God knows where you are, even though all you can see and feel is the darkness. The battery in your spiritual Streamlight may be getting low and you can’t seem to see anything but shadows, but He is still there and He still cares about you. If you can but hold on a bit longer, the clouds will begin to break up and the stars will come out.
Seeing the stars after the intense darkness reminded me of the little blessings that God sends our way even when things around us seem to be dark and cheerless. The little lights speak of the promise of the Great Light. We don’t see the Great Light at this moment, but He will dispel the darkness at His coming.
What’s that? Make my point in English this time? Oh, okay. I think you figured out that the darkness is referring to those things that come into our lives that can overwhelm us with despair. By the “Great Light,” I’m referring to Jesus. The Scriptures refer to Him as “the Light that came into the world” and “the people who lived in darkness saw a great light.” If you go back and read through the Gospels, you’ll find that no one ever came to Jesus with a problem He couldn’t solve. It didn’t always happen immediately and it wasn’t always the way they expected, but if they stayed with Him, it came out right.
My daughter reminded me of this poem from the Tolkien Trilogy which says it in another way. The writer is not dead or dying, just fighting despair deep inside a mountain.
Though here at journey’s end I lie
In darkness buried deep,
Above all towers strong and high,
Above all mountains steep,
Above all shadows rides the Sun
And Stars forever dwell;
I will not say the Day is done
Or bid the Stars farewell.
— Samwise Gamgee, The Return of the King
I guess our “ride-along” is about done for this month, but let me close in prayer before you get out.
Lord, in the Gospels it is recorded that many brought their friends to You for healing when the friends were unable to get to You on their own. In the same way I bring to You, by faith, those of my readers who are weighed down with darkness and despair. I don’t know who they are or what their need is, but You do. I place them in Your hands and ask You to care for them. Cause the storm clouds to roll back. Cause the darkness to lift as the stars come out. Bring them hope. Bring them comfort. Help them to find a close personal relationship with You that will sustain them through this time in their lives. I ask it in Your Name and according to Your Word. Amen.
Blessings to you and yours.
Chaplain Bill firstname.lastname@example.org