Drive the Dark of Doubt Away
By Sheryl Holton, Adult Discipleship Minister | June 5, 2019
A few years ago, I hit a dark season of life. I was in a lot of pain and spent too many hours a week at the doctor and physical therapist. I was unemployed, having left a challenging job that I absolutely loved in hopes of reducing stress and giving my body (and mind) time to heal. I was lonely when my family left for work and school each day, but I was less than thrilled to welcome them home in the evening. Suffice to say, I was miserable.
Having been a Christian most of my life, I knew that I should pray. Every day I went through the motions of getting in my prayer chair, reading my Bible then closing my eyes. Nothing happened. I was still in pain. Still felt useless and grumpy.
My husband and I had always prayed together before he left for work. Now, he prayed and I just stood there holding his hands. I was certain God knew my pain. He knew my heartache. I knew He knew, but I began to doubt that He cared.
One day, I opened the kitchen trashcan to throw something away and noticed it smelled horrible. I took the bag out and sprayed the can but the yucky smell lingered. I remembered that someone had given me a scented votive so I dug it out of the drawer, set it on the island and found a match to light it. There was something on the wick and it flickered like it wasn’t going to stay lit, so I stood there staring at it, waiting for the flame to steady. As I watched the flame, I felt a wave of something flow through me that produced a shivering kind of sigh. Then something happened. I don’t know how to describe it other than to say that for just a moment, I felt like myself again. My body still hurt but I had a little surge of unexpected energy. I used it to scrub the stinky trashcan.
As I dried my hands, I stepped toward the candle to blow it out since it was no longer needed. I took a deep breath and started to bend forward to blow, then suddenly thought “say a breath prayer”. A breath prayer is a simple practice that has been used for centuries in which you breathe in with the first part of a phrase from scripture, then breathe out with the second part. The most common is from Luke 18:13, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
I stood there in the kitchen, staring at the flame, breathing my own prayer over and over again. “Lord Jesus, please help me”. “Lord Jesus, please help me”. “Lord Jesus, please help me”. I don’t know how long it was, but after a few minutes I blew out the candle and said, “Thank you, Jesus.”
When I think of that day, I think it’s funny that I knew lighting a candle could fix the problem caused by a stinky trashcan but it had not occurred to me that lighting a candle could clear the darkness of doubt from my heart. Today, I make it a regular practice to light a candle and breathe a prayer to ask God to come and fill the room with the light of Christ as he fills me with his Holy Spirit.