In the lion of trial we find the honey of communion.” Charles Spurgeon {1834-1892}

“Pull the curtain back,” I whispered.

Isabella, my daughter, uncurled her body from the vinyl foldout bed the hospital provided for overnight guests, stretching as she stepped toward the expansive picture window.

The view from my fifth-floor trauma ward window was stunning. We faced a faded indigo southern sky infused with a predawn glow pricked by black pine and maple tree silhouettes now paling into green.

photo-bella santos

Sunrise again.

The honeyed light cut through sleepy low clouds and touched the tips of nodding trees and quiet rooftops, like a mother brushing a stray curl from her child’s forehead.

Even the busy hospital was quieted by early morning. It seemed we were in on a secret, as if we were invited to an invitation-only premier.

I pressed a button and raised the back of my bed, adjusted my pillows and waited.

I imagined the chatter of birds, awake long before the sun made its appearance. I imagined the distant turn of a car engine. I imagined the watery, green scent of dew-drenched grass.

I watched fire rise and change the world with a newfound gratitude and tried to breathe deep, slow breaths. The lung was healing.

This interval of sunrise eclipsed the pain from my injuries, a gift of grace savored silently.

“Do you want coffee?” Isabella asked, but her movements told me the question was rhetorical.

She pulled from her bag of whole bean coffee, a grinder; she began boiling water in a traveling teakettle. I broke from my reverie and turned to watch my girl—almost a woman—and the decade of ballet training revealed in her every movement. Unaware of my gaze, she seemed to me a dancer on a stage, performing this domestic task out of its homey context.

The coffee ground and released its perfume.  Steam swirled above a low rumbling boil.

My hospital room smelled like home and I swallowed tears.

I grasped for each second as it passed, but my hands held only mist that evaporates with the rising sun.

Isabella placed a mug of freshly pressed coffee, rich with cream, into my hands.

photo-bella santos

With my daughter at my side and the honeyed light of dawn set alight on our faces, we watched our future rise.

“I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16b-17

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Friend, sometimes we find ourselves in the dark. Death looms, disease destroys, obligations overwhelm and fear threatens to flood our souls. But there is a light, the Very Light proclaimed to Israel long ago:

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)

Your light has come. Jesus, the Light of the World, came for all of us. As the glory of the Lord rises upon us, we only need to arise and reflect his light.

Arise. Sit up and take notice. Set your face to the dawn, take the cup given to you.

Partake of this honeyed communion, borne of this lion of trial…or loneliness…or loss.

Be saturated in the light of his glory and face this future, even this exceeding darkness, illumined by the truth of God’s promise: He will turn your darkness into light and smooth your rough roads. These are the things he will do. He will not forsake you.

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Share your story with us. What darkness are your facing? What promise has become your light? What is your honey?

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  1. 2

    This concept really resonates with me! I hadn’t heard that beautiful line from Spurgeon but have written about “The gift of a crisis” (http://wp.me/p1Ut5W-2y). Thanks for saying it so poeticly!

    • 3

      I’m sort of a Sprugeon junkie, I have this big, old “Morning and Evening” devotional and it’s rich and inspiring! I’ll be clicking over there soon to read your post — thanks for sharing and reading today :) Bless you, Amy–
      Alyssa

  2. 4

    This is just beautiful…this reminds of the hymn…this is my father’s world…He speaks to me everywhere…a sweet gift…gentle reminder…that gentle kiss on the cheek to reassure you He is there….blessings to you…

    • 5

      Such truth in that hymn, This is His world even when things seem to spin out of control — there is peace in knowing He is always the calm in the storm. Thank you friend for sharing–
      Alyssa

  3. 6

    Besides my fiance, this is the first time that I will actually be sharing this with anyone.
    I have been struggling with depression off and on over the past few months, and I feel stupid for ‘allowing’ it to consume me at times. It’s an uncontrollable pit of darkness that I can’t explain, it’s just there, looming. I have a great life; an absolutely amazing fiance who wants so badly to understand why I feel this way, family that is nothing but loving and supportive, and yet, it’s still there. I was beginning to get stronger in my faith and really preparing for a fantastic godly marriage, and I feel like Satan is trying to stop that from happening by isolating me and giving me these feelings of sadness. I am getting married in 7 weeks and I want it to be the happiest day of my life, but I am afraid that fear or sadness will paralyze me. I am afraid to tell my parents how I have been feeling because this should be the happiest time in my life, yet I struggle every day to put on a happy exterior.
    Please, if anyone has any advice to share, I would love to hear it. Thank you.

    • 7

      Oh, Sweet Friend,
      I remember feeling something like this after my first baby was born — I was so ashamed that I had fallen underneath the weight of depression even while married to a great guy and holding that perfect baby. I can’t give advice, but I can share a few ideas to encourage you. First, please realize that this isn’t something to feel stupid or ashamed over; some of my dearest, most amazing friends battle depression and they are valuable, vital, beautiful people that have improved my life. Sharing it with others releases you from isolation and helps you understand that you’re not alone. There are lots of factors, medical and otherwise that contribute to the feeling of helplessness and depression.

      I recently wrote about another time I struggled with gripping fear and how I became free of that (http://alyssasantos.com/2012/03/06/kill-the-madwoman/). I learned to make my prayers about confession and praise and during times when I struggle, I leave out the prayer request part. I confess my sin and then focus on the goodness of God, even repeating verses about his character out loud — and I leave out the requests because God knows everything already and my repeating my situation only makes me worry. Confession+prayer.

      There are truths in scripture about who we are in Christ Jesus — many in the book of Ephesians. I have found it helpful to list out “lies” or ideas I have about myself and then list out truths that God has for me. Seeing them in black and white next to each other really has helped me realize that God’s view is better. Then I can toss my ideas in the trash and fill the void with his truth.

      Lastly, I want you to know that if your fiance is supportive and understanding, he is a gift and will be instrumental in lifting you up over the years. My husband & I take turns upholding one another, but I have to say, he has buoyed me with his upbeat personality and encouragement time and again. It sounds like God has given you this sort of guy.

      I’ve prayed for you today and will write an “L” on my mirror to remind me of you – thank you so much for sharing your heart and hopes and fears here. You are beautiful because of that honesty.

      Alyssa

      • 8

        You made me cry when you said you would write an L. on your mirror…I don’t even know how to respond because it’s overwhelming to know that a total stranger is praying for me. Thank you for your words of encouragement. I will read your other post about fear, because that is something we can all definitely relate to. I was so scared to tell my fiance what I was feeling, but I know that he is there to support me and hold me tight when I need it most. I know what I need to do, but sometimes it’s physically doing it that can be so painful. I just need to wake up every morning, and before my feet even hit the ground, I just need to give my day to God and trust that He will guard my heart. Thank you for your prayers.
        Leah

        • 9

          Dearest L
          Alyssa was so correct in pointing out that there are many reasons for depression including medical ones. While working as a school nurse, I began to notice “a dark shadow” behind me. I had no natural reason for feeling sadness so I went to see my doctor. He diagnosed it as a chemical imbalance…perhaps caused by a series of sinus infections along with the stress of my job. He put me on medication to treat the imbalance and almost immediately I felt like myself again.
          I would urge you to have a check up. Don’t let the stigma of the word “depression” steal your joyful wedding day! It may very well be a medical problem and ignoring it won’t make it go away.
          I will be praying for you.

          • 10

            You are a beloved daughter of the King, Leah! Do not let anything take that from you. And do not be ashamed of your depression. We all battle our own darkness, our own weaknesses. There are times when I only have enough strength to grab onto Jesus. Nothing else makes sense. But that is enough. He is enough. Hold on tight. He will still be there when the fog lifts. Praying for you, dear sister.

    • 11

      L.

      I’m praying for you today too. I know the “black dog” well also. Please don’t feel ashamed.

      Have you read this piece by Dave Richo? http://www.newconversations.net/pdf/human_becoming.pdf

      On page 47, there is a beautiful piece called “Standing at the Edge of the Void”, I believe it is an excerpt from one of his books. I always find great comfort in it, and I hope you do too.

      Be blessed. I pray that this experience will lead you deeper into God.

      Heidi

  4. 12

    Beautiful reminder that while this isn’t the Garde of Eden, God’s creation is amazing and it reflects His glory.

    I knew God would use your trial to deepen the already deep river of wisdom within you. I’m lifted by your words today. Thanks

    • 13

      I am lifted by your friendship, Floyd. Deep rivers cut deep into the soil of our existence and the experiences are sometimes hard to speak of/write about. You are always an encouraging voice – thank you :)
      Alyssa

  5. 14

    I am in the midst of a very dark darkness. My marriage is under a severe spiritual attack and my husband is completely blind to it, acting in the flesh and claiming he wants to end our marriage. Financially, he can’t afford to go anywhere so he is still home… for now. I feel like I have nothing left. I cry out to the Lord all day. I have to take it one breath at a time. My chest hurts from heartache. I’m trying so hard to be strong for my children. I am the only spiritual leader they have right now. My husband is still “talking the talk”, but so many have noticed a huge change in him. He says that he and the Lord are just fine and that he has a peace with his decision… a decision that the Bible clearly states is hated by God. Piled on top of all of this, my husband brought his (incredibly annoying) recovering addict older brother to live with us. Any privacy I had is gone. I am a home schooling mom, so I’m here all day. As if my marriage and irritation of having a brother in law live here weren’t enough, my grandma was admitted to the hospital this weekend. I’m beginning to feel a bit like Job. There is so little hope and faith left and I’m trying so hard to cling to them.

    • 15

      praying for you. <3

    • 16

      Alicia,
      Bless you for sharing this hard, hard stuff.
      Dark darkness, where one cannot see even a glimmer of hope is scary. You are in a frightening position, and although you want to rely and trust on your husband, you are having to look beyond him to the husband of your heart. God will take whatever bit of faith you have and meet you there (http://alyssasantos.com/2012/02/15/if-you-can-faith-testing-possibility/) — he will not abandon you, friend. I prayed today that God will give you the strength to take each day, embrace the good, find the honey past the swarm of angry bees, and at the end of each day, leave behind those problems that you can’t fix alone.; that you can rest in the truth that God hears your cries and he will make your path straight and replace your heartache with joy– these are my prayers for you.
      Alyssa

  6. 17

    Thank you for that verse from Isaiah–I don’t know that I’ve ever really noticed it before, but it is exactly what I needed to hear right now.

    There are so many things that I’m struggling with right now (you can read about it here http://lifefaithful.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-doesnt-kill-you.html ), so much that I’m battling. The Hope is still there, though, waiting for me to reach out. Thanks for your words.

    • 18

      Mandy,
      We have a Hope that does not disappoint. From my experience, faith deepens in the battle’s throes — you will be able to look back and see the sweetness flowing from this season. I’m glad you’re writing about it (my personal favorite form of therapy :) ) and glad you shared –

      Alyssa

  7. 19

    Each time I read the words & events that my sister Alyssa shares I am encouraged & enlightened, not only because she is my sister, she is also my friend!

  8. 21

    I have been a child of God it seems all my life but it hasn’t been until recently that I truly started living it out loud so to speak and unfortunately I have made some horrible choices until now. I am now separated from my 2nd husband who turned out to be someone I never knew I am going through the hardest battle of my life and hate the judgements that have been coming from my mistakes. For the past 2 months I have questioned who I really am and what my place is in this world until recently I realized I have been basing my identity on circumstances instead of my Lord and savior. I am and will always be a child of an amazing God and altho I have made some huge mistakes he will always forgive me and see me as that beautiful butterfly the day I asked him to be mine.

    • 22

      You know, A, I think about my terrible choices and the places they’ve taken me and I can lift my head only be knowing they’re redeemed by Jesus. That’s what the cross is for–proving that we are graciously and completely covered by his love and because of his sacrifice we get to stand confident and clean and renewed. I am so happy that you can now see yourself as he sees you, forgiven and beloved. I love Psalm 40 –it sings the song you wrote here. Keep finding yourself in Jesus, A.

      Alyssa

  9. 23
    Victoria says:

    I love this post!

    Thank you, for sharing this beatiful story! and praise God for your caring, thoughtful daughter bringing beauty and comfort from home, alongside the beauty that God shined into your room.

  10. 24

    The darkness I am facing doesn’t make sense. There is no reason for it, but it is there, nonetheless, rearing its ugly head, trying to control my life. It is so unexpected. So for now, I’m clutching Jesus for all I’m worth. Holding onto Him is all I know to do. He will see me through the dark. I know it even if I can’t feel it. Thank you for the truth of your words.

    • 25

      Julie — these words are yours, too: “I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16b-17. He loves you so much…even more in the dark places. Proverbs 3:5-6 helps us remember to “trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. In all our ways acknowledge him and he will direct our paths.” Bless you, friend.

      Alyssa

  11. 26

    I read this morning after a terrible day yesterday. My husband said many hurtful, scary things to me yesterday and I just dont know where my future lays. But I will take the sweet communion and trust the Lord. Thank you for your sweet words to direct my thoughts and prayers in the right direction.

  12. 27

    Isn’t it a comfort, Carol, that God is with us during those terrible moments, always offering his brokenness for our healing? Bless you for sharing, dear one.

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