By Anthony Casperson

I’ve written about being in the Depths of Darkness in multiple blogs and even a book. That realm where depression and anxiety tend to bombard us. It’s where death feels like it’s all around us and could strike at a moment’s notice.

But I’ve also reminded us that in this dark place, we can still find Jesus right beside us. He’s with us in the difficulties and travesties of our lives. Even when the surrounding gloom seeks to blind us to his presence.

Admittedly, it sounds easy. When we’re in the Depths, just find Jesus and try to figure out what lesson he has for us in this place. Put your eyes on him and seek the path that he has set before us.

Yet, the actual experience of following the leading of our Shepherd is anything but easy.

That same deathly darkness which pulled us into such a painful place of disorientation still reaches out after we start to follow the way that will lead to our growth. New trials strike at us. Depression continues its siren call. Stress builds up greater pressure. And loneliness lies by saying that we’re only following a figment of our imagination.

These dismal distractions pull at us. They want to tear us away from God’s way and leave us a bloody mess.

As a matter of fact, that’s what the word distraction means. To pull away, or rip apart. And even more strangely, distraction is a term used for the grizzly punishment where arms and legs are tied to horses that are all sent opposite directions so that the limbs will be torn from the body.

Distractions in the darkness don’t just tug on our shirts in the hope to lure us away. They pluck and snatch and tear. Seize us every conceivable direction and then run. All for the purpose of death.

This season of the year that we’re in has many distractions. Anxieties about where the money’s gonna come from. Stresses about arranging schedules. Depression and loneliness, regardless of having to go in a million different places.

And while not every pull is a bad thing, distraction’s use of them leaves us feeling like death and darkness are closer than God is.

So, I want to take a minute to remind us to keep Jesus in sight during this time of the year that’s supposed to be about him—but often gets lost in the commotion.

We’re not too busy to spend time worshiping and glorifying him. If you’re feeling like you are, then distraction has already begun its pull on you. And some time considering Jesus is exactly what you need right now. A prayer. Time spent in his word. Even just a moment to breathe in his stillness.

That realignment away from the distractions is life-giving.

And again, it’s not easy. Trust me. I was feeling pressure this week to get things done. Even wondering when the idea for this blog would come. And as day after day of this week crossed off the calendar, nothing seemed to arrive. Until I realized that I was being distracted away from worshiping God. Too busy trying to figure out how to work for him that I forgot to actually praise him.

After that brief moment of breath reset my vision, the words flowed. I’m not promising that the difficulties will go away like that for all of us. But it’s better to take a second for a breath of life than to be ripped into a million pieces.

It’s a realignment that keeps us from death amid this dark realm. And keeps the distractions from tearing us apart.