Reporting from the Depths
By Anthony Casperson
I am thankful to God for the depths of darkness.
Now, that’s a sentence I wouldn’t have even thought of saying a year ago. I probably wouldn’t have thought about saying that sentence a couple weeks ago.
Being thankful to God for faithfully standing with me in the darkness? Sure. Being thankful to God for being able to help others found in the depths as well? Definitely. But being thankful for the depths of darkness themselves? That almost sounds blasphemous.
God didn’t make the evil of the world. Evil is an absence of his goodness. So how could I be thankful for the place of death-like shadow where his light is actively shaded?
Just because God didn’t create the depths of darkness, it doesn’t mean that he can’t use them in order to bring his light to bear in the midst of the darkness. I’ve written before that I believe God uses the depths to teach his wisdom and faithfulness. The darkness can be the very place that his light can shine the brightest if we let it. But to be thankful for that darkness is a whole other story.
It just doesn’t make sense that someone could be thankful for the darkness. How can that be?
I was thinking about one of the two people whom God used to push me toward writing these blogs. I had been going through counseling for my panic attacks and depression. During that time, my counselor noticed that I find thinking about and researching various theological ideas to be energizing. And that energy needed an outlet to let me tell others what I’ve discovered.
It’s a truth about myself that I knew, but one that I was mishandling. I had been trying to make the outlet be a very specific type, but it wasn’t working. Trying to push myself into a specific type of ministry for God, but not being able to go that way (for various reasons), was making me not do the very thing that he wanted me to do. Being directly told this truth, made me begin moving toward starting Brushstrokes of a Theonerd.
It’s been about a year since I had to stop going to counseling (also for various reasons), and I was thinking about all that has happened in that year. How much I would love to tell my counselor that God’s been doing. And as I thought about all of the things that have been going well, I realized that if not for the depths of darkness that God allowed for me to be in, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t even be who I am now.
Years spent in the depths, I’ve learned so much. A faithfulness that goes beyond human understanding. An empathy for people without easy answers. A hope that stands confidently in the security of God and the surety of his steadfast love even as the waters rage around me. A perspective on God’s priceless truth that brings new beauty to light.
Without those years spent in the depths, that’s not who I’d be. Sure, God could’ve taught me those things in other ways. He’s able to do whatever he desires to accomplish, but I doubt I would be in the exact same place if not for the depths. And I don’t believe that those other possible versions of me would be in a better place to fulfill the mission God has for me. Those events prepared me to be who I am, and any possible change would cause me to have ended in a very different state of being.
This thought solidified as I listened to a podcast by Greater Than Games’ Christopher Badell and Adam Rebottaro, the makers of the game Sentinels of the Multiverse. Since the beginning of 2017, they’ve been releasing weekly podcasts about the characters in their fictional comic book universe. (The comic books themselves are fictional because there are no comics.)
The second superhero they covered was The Wraith. Her story is filled with various troubling events. From the death of her college boyfriend who was killed when the pair was mugged (which led to her first desiring to stop criminals), to the death of her best friend by the hands of her nemesis, named Spite (who had become a serial killer in part because of The Wraith’s previous arrest of him). Even the city which The Wraith calls her home, Rook City, is one of the darkest locations in that universe.
Christopher and Adam spoke about how The Wraith’s variants in the game come from other versions of her in the multiverse where events shaped her differently. Those differences making drastic changes in her character, most of which were worse than her “normal” self.
There’s even a card in the game that shows The Wraith standing in a maze of mirrors, which reflects various versions of her. One is monstrous. One seems afraid. One even shows her wearing Spite’s mask. But in all of these variations, the version of her that stands ready to fulfill her mission is the one that has gone through all of this darkness, the version that she is now.
How many of us have been shaped by God through trials and darkness? His masterful hand guiding us through the depths in order to make us ready to fulfill the mission he has for us, even if we have spent much time with his light being our only source.
I would be a very different person if not for God working in the midst of the depths. And though I could think of a million different ways that I would have preferred for my life to go, it wouldn’t be the me that I am right now. The me whom God has prepared for his mission.
I am thankful to God for the depths of darkness. Without them, I wouldn’t be who God has made me through them.