Stone of Hope
Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.
Martin Luther knew a thing or two about the desperation of the soul. As a monk, prior to his revelation of justification by faith alone, he was prone to extreme bouts of depression and anxiety—believing himself so sinful and worthy of wrath that God could never look upon him with any favor. I can easily sympathize with Luther on that account. For the past fifteen years, I have been in and out of treatment for a cacophony of mental health reasons, most consistently anxiety and depression. My current doctor describes it as treatment-resistant depression, a moniker aptly suited for a brand of anxious despair that isn't readily treated by first, or even second, order treatments.
And yet, it is often in these periods of darkness that I most readily find the brilliance of God. I don't mean to romanticize depression; I think Hollywood and young adult fiction does that well enough and is a disservice to those who live with the daily onslaught of it. But the light of hope burns all the brighter in the darkness. I am more apt to see those small in-breaking of Christ's light when I am at my lowest, whether that be through a prayer from a friend, a timely piece of scripture, or most frequently, the chorus of a hymn coming to mind.
As we study the imagery of the lampstand this season, I can't help but reflect on how much those lampstands, the word shining in the darkness and not being overtaken by it, is the perfect image of life continuing amongst depression and despair. No matter how low a place I find myself in, I've yet to lose at least a glimmer of light, the stone of hope from the mountain of despair, if you will. Precisely because the Christ of the crucifixion traveled through the darkness of death, I too can walk in the dark valley of the soul, guided by the singular light that Christ promises—not for a quick solution, but the promise that I don't walk in the valley alone.
Lent calls us to remember the valley that Christ made his way through for our own sakes. While his particular journey is a singular one which only God can go through, it is a comfort to know God has suffered and despaired as we have and in the midst of our lives, light is never so far away or so easily dimmable that we cannot access it.
Claire Hein-Blanton is an adjunct professor at Baylor University's Truett Seminary. She has been a member of South Main since 2005. She is married to Jack, and they have two children, Jack IV and Joy.