In the beginning, the earth was formless and empty. Genesis tells us this much. But it also tells us that God was there.
This is the beginning of a conversation on darkness.
Darkness is a hot topic in our fallen world, and how could it not be? Every day, we turn on the news, click on the browser, open the app to find that yet another unimaginable act has become not only imaginable, but real. Every day, we are confronted with darkness, though we know that we live under God's light. How are we supposed to reconcile these ideas? What are we supposed to do with this darkness?
First, and this is very important, we have to stop blaming God for allowing it. Interestingly enough, this doesn't require any theological exegesis of the concept of free will, nor does it require any justification of God's character, nor does it require that we come up with a rationale for God "using" this darkness in some meaningful way (which, we must add, doesn't actually sound meaningful to anyone who is going through the darkness at the time....so stop it).
All it requires is that we go back to in the beginning.
We read this all the time, Genesis 1, and every time we do, there's something inside of us that says, "And now all the really cool stuff is about to happen." We look at the formless and void, and we know what's coming: God's about to speak. Notice what happens when He does:
God speaks light.
He doesn't have to speak darkness; darkness already exists. It's "formless and empty," just like the rest of everything. It's nothing. It's just space. But it's space in which God is present, just about to speak.
And none of us read this and huff. None of us read this and put our hands on our hips. None of read this and stop our feet and demand that God explain Himself. How could He be present where there's anything that's formless and empty? How could God be present in the darkness without doing something about it?
We don't demand this because we already know the answer - He's going to do something about it; He's about to speak.
But we look around us at a world full of darkness, and we're indignant. How could You, God? How could You promise that You're present and still let darkness exist? How could You be here and let this happen? Why didn't You stop it?
None of us seems willing to entertain the idea that our darkness is what it has always been: formless and empty, waiting on God to speak. None of us seems willing to withhold judgment and ask, "Okay, God, what do You have to say about this?" No, we're too busy demanding, "God, what do You have to say for Yourself?"
Because although we do not blame Him for the formless and empty, we very much want to hold Him accountable for the darkness.
It doesn't work like that, and I don't think it's helpful to believe that it does. Imagine what would happen if we took the darkness of a fallen world and viewed it through Genesis 1 eyes. Imagine what would happen if, every time we had to adjust our eyes to the darkness, we started expecting what we expected in the beginning - that God is about to speak. Imagine what God would have to say if we were listening for it. Imagine how it would redefine our experience if we knew that darkness wasn't saying anything; it was holding its breath.
God is about to speak.
Imagine what would happen if we let Him.