They say it’s always darkest just before the dawn. She wished it were so, for the darkness had never been deeper than it was now. She sat in a dark room, curled in a little ball. Her eyes were hot and itchy, for she had cried her eyes out. She buried her face in her hands; her head ached and ached and she had no wish to see the light of day again. With this heavy weight on her chest, she had plummeted down rather quickly. Therefore she endured, at the rock bottom of everything. Just as a single spark claims an entire forest, so had disaster claimed her life. She wanted to yell, “How did it come to this?”
It would be so easy to fall asleep one night and never wake up, but she could not go that route, however much she longed to. Life would go on, whether she wanted it to or not. She had been hurt, and her trust had been shattered on the floor, but there was no going back. Her head was dull and as she raised her weary eyes, all she could do was hope that the dawn would come soon. She felt like a used teabag. She had been drowning beneath this deluge for so long, gasping for air under this heavy robe of despair. She stood, her body shivering, and went over to the window. Yet her eyes only met darkness, a thick inky darkness that matched her hair. In fact, the darkness seemed so tangible that she could almost reach out and touch it. Her face was tired, framed by her dark hair and lined with old worries. In this deep of a hole, who knew if she would ever see the light at the end of the tunnel? Oh how she wished she could be safe from a distance, but regardless, she was alone in the midst of the storm.
She retired to her room that night, her heart heavy as she sank into her bed. She drew the covers over her head, for she did not expect to see the morning light. She wished none of this had happened, but it had rushed over her unexpectedly, a relentless flood. Sooner or later she would have to come to terms with it, and accept that she would have to fight to the surface of the water. She was drowning; yet draw a breath soon she must, for all the life was gone from her lungs.
That night she dreamed they had her lungs on a machine. She could see herself strapped in, there in the hospital bed: eyes hollow, face gaunt, the shape of her bones outlined beneath her skin, and her breath rasping in and out. But the rhythm was falling out, and no matter how hard she fought, the rhythm slowed. Terrified, she struggled; but the mechanical air continued to pump in and out of her lifeless shell. Watching herself, horrified, she willed herself to live, but the strength to draw a fresh breath was not to be found.
She woke up, smothered by her blankets. Forcefully untangling herself, she landed with a thump on the floor, straight into the streaming sunlight. Her heart was racing. Terrified thoughts continued to fill her mind, but she pushed past them to the memory of the dream. And despair filled her as she realized that in the dream, she had not lacked the will to live, but the physical ability to live. She looked around, blinking in the sunlight. The dawn had come. Although it would not be denied that her heart still ached, it had lessened to a dull throbbing. Betrayal would always haunt her, and her trust was still broken. Yet something about that dream had changed her perspective about things – yes, it had been and would be rough. But maybe, just maybe, she could learn to walk again. Though the river had roared around her, it was better a few days up to her neck than five minutes over her head, because then it wouldn’t matter, for she would be dead. Tears would still come, she knew, but there was always the hope of a new dawn to look forward to.
That morning she chose to live; she chose at least to try to get back up on her feet. The next morning, she took one step. The morning after, two steps she took. The pain had not left, and though bruised and battered, she thought maybe she was rather better than worse for the wear. Never before had she realized that the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross was so valuable to her. In Him she knew she could always trust; no matter if all else failed her. To learn that lesson, each and every person must be broken, and she was no exception. Just as birth is a necessary pain, she was now realizing that there is no value of beauty and joy without pain. This lesson she had learned, and if she could help it, she would not forget it. And she knew: there is joy in life, there is joy found in Christ, but who can value it if they have not been pulled back from the brink of the grave? It was all worth the weight, worth the wait.