Fencing the Darkness

I read something profound this morning.  It was one of those “Things that make you go ‘hmmmmm…..'” moments.  I love those!

I’ve just started reading Lisa Sharon Harper’s book, The Very Good Gospel.  I’m only 25 pages in, and I am hooked!

The opening chapter, called “A Glimpse of Shalom,” begins with a focus on the Genesis 1 account of the creation story.  Genesis 1:1-2 says, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”  Before God created anything, there was emptiness and darkness.  

The Hebrew word for emptiness, or void, is tohuw, which literally means, “a desolation.”  The Hebrew word for darkness is choshek, which means things like misery, destruction, and death.  Before the creation event, there was just tohuw and choshek, desolation and darkness.

But, on the first day, God said, “’Let there be light,’ and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”  (vs. 3-4)

The “ah ha” moment for me this morning was when Harper pointed out that God did not obliterate the darkness.  Light did not destroy the darkness in the creation story.  Light pushed back the darkness.  Light set a limit to the darkness.  Light created a boundary that darkness cannot cross.  But, darkness, and all that exists in the dark, is part of creation.

Harper writes, “God speaks and goodness is birthed from a cesspool of despair.  This is our human context.  We are surrounded by the stuff of darkness…  The darkness is real.  It is utterly chaotic, truly destructive.  But God is positioned over it and confronts the darkness.”

So what?  Well, I think it is profound that the story of the creation of the universe acknowledges that there is evil and suffering.  There is chaos.  There is destruction.  Sometimes, we will feel consumed by the shadow.

The creation story is not a fairy tale.  This isn’t Pollyanna.  This is reality.  There is darkness, and it is painful.

But – there’s a fence around the darkness.  Darkness only has so much power.  God is greater than the darkness.  And, even in this fallen world, God has fenced the darkness in.  Not a fence that keeps the darkness away, necessarily, but a fence that reigns in and limits the power of the darkness.

God is greater than the darkness.  But, there is darkness.  I deeply appreciate the honesty of that.

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