A light at the end of the tunnel

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27 NIV)

The phrase “let not your hearts be troubled” has been in my mind a lot recently, mostly because my heart has been troubled. We had to take a 7 year old, who we love like one of our own, to an inpatient psychiatric facility to address issues including self harm and highly destructive behavior. When we dropped him off, he was terrified and sobbing, and honestly, so were we. It’s not fair, it’s not right, but it’s what was needed for him at the time. He’s back in our cottage now, but I think I’m more nervous and concerned about him now than I was when he was in the hospital. I hope and pray that he learned something from his time there. I really want to see him improve and stay with us, but I know that if he doesn’t change or gets worse, he needs to go somewhere that can help him more than we can.

I recently heard that a friend was going through an impossibly difficult situation and the phrase “a light at the end of the tunnel” popped into my head. Then I began to think about some of my wife’s family and some other friends going through similarly impossible situations. The more I thought about it, the more it developed itself something that I hope can be helpful. Too often Christians like to use notoriously cliche verses and phrases in a good hearted attempt to help those who are hurting. “All things work together for good,” “Death has given way to victory,” “Death, where is thy sting,” “Let not your heart be troubled.” Those are just a few of the ones I thought of, I’m sure you could come up with more. Yes, there are times when those are helpful, but when an unexpected tragedy comes along, death stings. Your heart is troubled. You feel like nothing is going to work together for good and the situation is a total loss.

As a disclaimer, this is the voice of observation, not the voice of experience. I am incredibly blessed to still be on earth with my immediate family and close friends. But I have spent a lot of time around grieving families. One of the privileges of working in EMS is the invitation into the most vulnerable and difficult situations a person can ever encounter. To think that as a complete stranger you are allowed to be the first to comfort the loved ones of a person who has just passed on or been injured is a tremendous honor. It’s a very strange experience to tell a wife that you did everything you could for her husband, but it wasn’t enough. You learn to balance empathy with efficiency. You learn helpful phrases like “They didn’t suffer” “We did everything they would’ve done in the hospital” and “You did everything that you could to help them”. That last one is big, because invariably family members will feel guilty and wonder what they could’ve done differently. That’s a very normal reaction, but it can be harmful if it lingers.

I feel like this has been scatterbrained and heavy, but that has been me the past week or so. I hate that, because I try hard to be a positive person. Here is the encouraging part. This is the happy ending: There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Going through life can feel pretty dark. It can feel like you’re in a tunnel and there’s no way out. The tunnel is dark, and it’s long, but it will end. Jesus is the light at the end of the tunnel. At times it’ll be easy to see the light, through friends and family, through nature, music, memories, or whatever ways you connect to God. Other times it will feel like darkness is all around you, and there’s no way out. That’s when you need to be intentional about seeking the light. You won’t want to. You’ll want to sit and wallow, you’ll be tempted to let the darkness win. But the only way to get through a tunnel is to keep moving forwards. I love how David Crowder says it in his song Come As You Are.

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

Come as you are. Angry, confused, bitter, miserable, depressed, lost, broken, hopeless, desperate, doubtful, alone. Come as you are.

Lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

Jesus loves you. Jesus wants to hear from you. He knows what you’re going through (Hebrews 4:15). He doesn’t care if you yell, scream, doubt, blame, cuss, ask questions, or anything else. He wants you as you are, not as you think you should be. Jesus’ whole ministry was meeting people where they are, as they are. It’s no different today than when he was walking on the earth. Don’t feel ashamed. Don’t be embarrassed that you’re mad at God or just cussed in a prayer. He knows what’s in your heart, so it’s no use hiding it from him with your words.

There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will get there. It might take a while, and it’s definitely going to be difficult, but you will get there. The light is always there.

Come as you are.

–Mr. Jon

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