In their Sunday school class, my kids were learning how God made something out of nothing. They were given the chance to make something from blocks, from clay, and then there was nothing but an empty box. No one could make something from that.
I have been reading Michael Card’s book about lament, The Hidden Face of God. He describes the darkest place of pain as being when one has completely given up hope of being comforted:
“[T]here is no hope. It simply does not exist … anywhere…. At this darkest stage—in order for comfort to exist—it must be created out of the nothingness that smothers the sufferer. Comfort ex nihilo, which is to say, a comfort that can only come from the God who alone can create something out of nothing” (p. 38).
I wonder what it would look like for God to create comfort out of nothingness? As that moment when the light first ripped through the darkness (“And God said …”) how would comfort be spread through the lonely vigil of suffering? Whatever that comfort looks like, there is creativity in that moment, where something previously unimagined comes into being. When I am lost in darkness, I am least able to be creative and find myself again and again being drawn into a hopeless spiral of nothingness and I can’t begin to imagine something strong enough to pull me away from its vortex. And I also can’t imagine that I would know how to share myself with others in that state or that they would even want me to if I could.
But maybe it’s not so complicated as I always want to make it. Maybe it’s as simple as someone walking into a room and speaking my name, someone holding my eyes a moment longer than is needed, someone who offers a hug and with it a deep and healing acceptance. When the darkness threatens to overtake me still, I am praying and hoping and begging to be reminded: into that space of suffering, there is a God whose imagination is never-ending, a God with ongoing power to create something from nothing—whether the very world itself or hope from the deepest despair.