For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6
Beauty comes from darkness.
Some of the world’s greatest works of art were born out of the pain of the artist. Pick up any good poetry book and read a few lines. They will move you to your very core and manage to make you question how something so dark could be so beautiful.
With this idea in mind we look to some of the greats: Michelangelo’s work was defined by its melancholy themes, and yet he is considered one of the greatest artists of all time. Vincent van Gogh was in so much pain he cut off his ear, but still managed to create some of the most inventive and beautiful paintings the world has ever seen. T.S. Eliot battled severe depression and still produced pieces of poetry that defined the Modernist period (have you read The Waste Land? I keep a copy in the stack of books by my bed). Ernest Hemingway and Sylvia Plath, both had such ways with words they are now set apart as some of the most influential writers of all time, but the works they produced were ridden with the hopelessness they felt that was their ultimate demise.
These artists all knew pain and darkness, but have gone down in history as having made some of the most beautiful works of art the world has ever known. Thus affirming in part the theory that beauty comes of darkness.
However, there is a greater explanation of this idea beyond these great artists.
The God of the Universe made beauty out of nothing (Gen. 1:2). He took the dark and made light shine. He created the most beautiful works of art ever, namely the mountains, the oceans, the land, the sky, the moon, the stars, plants, animals, humans, and every thing that inhabits the earth, all beautiful works of art that were brought to fruition out of darkness that only He had power over.
When we look to this, we can do little but be affirmed in the fact that He has power over darkness, not excluding the darkness that human’s feel. If human’s can create such beauty in their times of suffering, it has to be proof that He has reign over what will be allowed out of such pain, because He alone has power over darkness; just as He did at the beginning of time. After all, we are created in His image (Gen. 1:26) and this is not lost on the way that we produce works.
We can look from God as the artist behind all things and move through God’s word. We can look to some of the stalwarts of the faith, people like Abraham, Jonah, Job, Elijah, Jeremiah, and David all who experienced such depths that they questioned God’s power. I mean for heaven’s sake Elijah asked God to end his life (1 Kings 19). But God sustained him in his darkest time, giving him strength to continue on to bring to fruition God’s beautiful and perfect plans.
Then we can look beyond these biblical figures and to great men of the faith like Luther, Cowper, and CH Spurgeon, all men who made contributions to Christianity that are still blessing us today. These men all dealt with severe depression, though through it all looked to God and trusted that God would deliver them, and He did.
Every morning and night I read Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. I cannot possibly express the number of times I have been laying in my bed either with the light streaming in calling me to the day I don’t think I can face, or closing a day I am just happy to have made it through, reading Spurgeon’s words and sobbing into my forest green pillow at the realization that I am not the only one. That I am not the only person who has had such faith in Jesus, but experienced the agony of a day in which each moment brings the thought that it could not get worse.
I am sad to say I have lain out with Elijah, asking God to end it all. I have cried out with David, asking why God has forsaken me. I have sat with Spurgeon and suffered silently while putting forth the desire to show God’s glory through my life though it seems nearly impossible, only able to attempt at grabbing every truth I possibly could and hope that would sustain me.
I am broken. I am in pain. I see a therapist every week. I take an anti-depressant every night. I left college because I was too overwhelmed to continue. I am struggling through each and every day. I am full of dread when six o’clock rolls around because that seems to be when my biological clock’s alarm reminds the sadness to kick in.
But from this darkness beauty is prevailing. I am allowed to dig deeper into God’s word, to draw nearer to Him. I am allowed to have quiet time with Jesus every morning when I wake and every night when I close my eyes. I am allowed to feel in full force all of the emotions that He has called me to experience. I am allowed to write to my heart’s content, the only thing I have wanted to do since the age of seven. I am allowed to see how I require His strength in each moment of everyday. I am allowed to heal. I am allowed to give my life to Jesus—the truest beauty any person can experience on this side of eternity.
Out of darkness comes beauty and that fact comes from a sovereign God. A God who is not the author of sin, but who uses all things, including the sin, the darkness, the pain of this world, to work together for good (Romans 8:28). His son has died for us that this pain and this suffering is assured to be temporary. As we wait for eternity—you and I alike—can rest in comfort, knowing that through darkness, the beauty of the cross will prevail.
“My witness is, that those who are honoured of their Lord in public, have usually to endure a secret chastening, or to carry a peculiar cross, lest by any means they exalt themselves, and fall into the snare of the devil.”
Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”