The wasteland that lives between those seemingly long moments of our business, our 'normal' comings and goings. The dearth that suddenly grabs us hard when we don't expect it.
The chords of pain. The torrents of destruction. The snare of death (Psalm 18:4).
There is no compass, no exit that marks a way through the perilous nightmare of being abused by either someone or something - a person or a set of devastating circumstances. You are just left torn from what was, with nothing but void where there had so deeply once been life and purpose.
You find everything has become tarnished with a malignant futility.
How can life ever become anything more again than a going through the motions?
Is at the very heart of this unfathomable place (Psalm 18:11).
I don't write those words lightly.
My own life has been marked by some very cruel moments, from early on in my childhood, to some unwarranted brutality towards me in my youth, and then in the loss of both family and my wife in more recent times. Most of these incidents I've never discussed publicly and probably never will, but they are wounds that mark my days hard, and I know that none of that suffering would have been in any way bearable at all were it not for the God who, amongst the darkness, is truly present and able to inhabit even death with the enduring truth that such evil, however cruel its intent and work, is not the final word.
John tells us in the opening of his gospel that this manner of light shines in the darkness. Its nature is such that it cannot be quenched, cannot be subdued, by the awfulness that on occasion so encompasses and presses upon us in the travail of both body and soul.
The impact of the dark is terrible - all too palpable in the moments I have encountered. Torn from so much which should be good and whole, the abyss swallows you and there is nowhere to go.
Jesus is found in that place.
Whilst 'gods' arbitrarily 'rule' us by dictates distant and capricious, be they learning or myth, bruising us to the point of ending us, Christ hangs upon Calvary, broken and enveloped by darkness, that what was described by the Prophet Isaiah many centuries before may occur - the poison of sin and death is drawn into that death, into Him, that we are healed in that one point, that one event, in all of eternity.
That is my shelter in the violence of a broken life, a murdered world (Psalm 18:16).
Because He came and bled, the day will come when the beast that tares and stabs us will be ended. Every tear and wound will finally be ended by His stripes and balm.
Until that day, we can find Him there, in the very centre of the carnage -
the God who can inhabit all our sorrows by His astonishing love.
The mercy is that He alone has taken upon Himself all our grief, all our sorrows, all that has caused that tragedy, and He alone will take away the brutal sting, the savage cut, that these dreads bring upon us.
In the midst of our pain, He cries out upon a cross and brakes the cycle of our being destroyed. He rises victor from those benighted realms and assures us that, in Him, our grief will end.
Our true life is to come. Heaven on earth, when sorrow is over (Psalm 18:19).
That is the God who comes in our present darkness.