It is the darkest hour of the morning. Men who never sleep take their naps now. This is when the bars turn out the last of the hopeless. It is too late even to be disreputable. If you are awake now, you are utterly alone, even if worlds away someone lights up a tiny green dot on Facebook.
It is in the darkest hours that your faith is tested. Gethsemane. Could you not keep watch with me for an hour?
At some point all mankind is adrift in dreams, and you stand alone with your demons. And the test is whether you really think you are alone.
We have promises, a thousand rich visions, hope-filled verses, prophecies of deliverance. Paradise is not dead, the Garden is not forever lost. Death and sin and agony are a momentary lapse in the order of things– a vacation from the vast expanse of a glorious eternity, an eternity marked by feast and song and a wedding celebration. Humanity must sleep sometime, but it will wake.
Still, the shadows cling tight and hope is elusive. We are weak, unable to escape the quiet silence of an empty night. Despair will visit us.
I will go to the place I always go. Men like us, feeble men, knew this once, and they confronted it. A knight must have his vigil, his long and lonely wake for a past life, his temptation in the wilderness. Let him not sleep, for when the morning comes he will have earned his spurs. That deep darkness, when false dawn is closer than midnight, that is no mere accidental happening. He is called to that darkness. It is his foe, and he cannot pass until he has met it face to face.
Despair is not to be avoided. It is to be met, and we are to match its deathless gaze with our own. It has all the world and our sinful hearts on its side. We have Christ. The monster in the dark may rule his moment, but we will survive the moment. After all, we are already dead. And we live again.
The light shined in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.