Everyone is on a journey. What sort of a journey you’re on varies from person to person, it varies at what point you talk to them, and one person can be on multiple journeys.
Journeys In The Light
For some of you, you’re on a journey just to complete school. For some of you, you’re on a journey to get that first “big boy” or “big girl” job. Maybe you’re on a journey to marriage. Maybe you’re headed for parenthood. Maybe you’re even getting a start on getting rid of your debt.
Maybe you’re already there. Maybe you’re not on your first child, you’re walking the path to your third. Maybe you’re not just looking for any job, you’re on your way to a better job, a promotion, the step up and forward. Maybe you’re working on an advanced degree. Maybe you’re not just getting rid of debt, you’re building a future.
Most of those journeys are full of expectation and waiting, but there’s hope. You are on the road to someplace better and you walk on head, whistling as the sun shines down.
But maybe that’s not what your journey looks like.
Journeys In The Dark
Maybe you’re walking the lonely road in search of a friend. Perhaps your journey is the one where you’re teetering on the edge of a precipice while financial struggles push you closer. Maybe you’re on the path full of questions and dark shadows of illness, disease, cancer. Maybe your journey is the one with pouring rain while you’re slugging it through a mire pit as you struggle with the grief and pain of loss – loss of a job, loss of an opportunity, loss of a capability, loss of a friend, loss of a family member.
These are not fun journeys. And yet every one of us, guaranteed, will walk one of these dark paths. It’s the rocky, friendless trail through thorny bushes and leafless trees where there is no beauty. Shadows drape cold over you as you stare at the mountains to either side that are looming in. Somedays, it feels like they are leaning in so close they will topple onto you. What lurks in their lightless caves? Nothing pleasant, that’s for sure.
All Journeys, Even Dark Journeys, End In The Light
Even when it feels like we are in the land of the dead, in the land of the hopeless, in a barren wasteland with nothing to look forward to and no reason to move on, set your eyes on Christ.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psa. 23:4)
“For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from failing, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” (Psa. 56:13)
“I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psa. 116:9)
There is hope. When you reach the bottom of the deepest valley of all, God is still there.
That doesn’t make the journey easy. That doesn’t make the pain and heartache any less. It does, however, mean that you have a hope. Because that means that in the end, your journey, no matter where it leads, will lead into the light.
How To Survive The Dark Journey
That still leaves the question of how to survive this dark journey (or journeys) that you’re traveling on. Every situation depends, but I offer these encouragements:
- Take up your staff – pray.
- Carry your rod – read Scripture.
- Put on good shoes – focus on your future hopes, even if all you can hope for now is Christ’s return and your union with Him in heaven.
- Don’t carry extra, unnecessary baggage – recognize that God alone carries the world; it is not your burden to bear. And that’s a good thing. This also means don’t be around negative people or negative thinking in any fashion.
- Bring a friend and be a friend – find someone else that is traveling on a dark journey. I can assure you most folks are. Also, don’t forget to be a friend, too. You know what the dark journey is like – so give others the same grace you need.
- Keep a light on your person – look for the light in your life now. Take a moment to savor even just one blessing from God: the beauty of nature, sweet moments with family and friends, a delicious cup of coffee or bite of good food, a lighthearted book, a fun movie, a moving song.
- Bring food and water – no one is invincible except God. Recognize that you need sustenance, and not just physically. And that this is a good thing. Eat healthily, exercise, consume positive materials, and make sure that you stay hydrated with Scripture. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, too.
- Keep a journal – journals are for journeys. You are on this journey for a reason, but sometimes when you’re walking the rocky slopes down it’s hard to see what purpose it might serve. So take notes, and once you are at the top of the next hill, look back and review your entries to see what you learned, how God shaped you despite the difficulties, and how you might help others through it.
Yes, you still have to walk this journey through the darkness. Yes, it’s still going to be difficult.
But keep your head up, and keep moving forward. This path ends in light. It might take a while to get there, but you know it does. So keep on walking, my dear friend. We’ll get there. And it’ll be beautiful.