How to Push Back the Darkness

There’s a lot happening in our world today, and it can be easy to despair.

Many writers of old, including J.R.R. Tolkien, lived through a war, crushing poverty, injustice, and a variety of other cruelties, so writing a story where evil oppressed a world was simple because it reflected the actual world they lived in. However, in many of these great tales, evil and darkness are pushed back by the light, and many times, people never stop fighting for good even in the midst of suffering.

This season of life might feel dark and deep as we wait to hear the next big announcement about the pandemic or the next awful declaration. However, despite the darkness and grief we might be feeling, there is still a heartening amount of beauty and hope to be had in this world. Here’s a list of ways you can push back the darkness in this season.

1. Pursue Christ

Pray for the people. Pray for leaders and for followers. Instead of worrying about your family members and friends, pray for them and entrust them to the Lord. While worrying seems like it’s responsible and productive, it’s actually quite counterproductive and doesn’t really produce anything but fear and struggle.

While you’re quarantined at home, this is the perfect time to crack open that devotional book you always meant to start, grab your Bible and journal and get to reading. Even if you feel dry and empty, even if you don’t feel encouraged right away, keep at it. It’s the steady intake of biblical wisdom that leads you to know the Lord more and more and further understand his character and heart for the world. Enlist a friend or family member to remind you to keep at it if making the habit is challenging.

Knowing the promises and hope that God gives can be extremely life-giving and anxiety-reducing during a time like this.

2. Make art

There are all sorts of examples of people pushing back the darkness in history, but one of the most beautiful and hopeful ways you can do so is by making art. Whether you’re observing and appreciating someone else’s art or you’re making some of your own, artistic expression has a way of bringing light and optimism into situations that otherwise seem irredeemable.

The next time you’re feeling down and dejected, try turning to art as an outlet. Many families across America are adorning their windows and doors with rainbows as a symbol of hope. Paired with the drawings are chalk messages on sidewalks saying things like, “We’ll get through this together,” and “Stay strong, take courage!” Art helps remind us that we’re never alone in the darkness, and there’s beauty to be found even in the dimmest of places.

3. Engage humor

A sense of humor is such wonderful medicine for the soul. If you’re lucky enough to live with someone who’s naturally funny, that might just do the trick, but it can also be a sweet and hilarious relief to watch a professional comedian on television and laugh until Diet Coke squirts out your nose. There are a lot of great options out there these days, but if stand-up comedy isn’t your thing, try a funny book, tv show or podcast. Ask for recommendations from friends if you’re having trouble finding something.

4. Care for someone else

Sometimes, the darkest times are when we are most focused on ourselves. Instead of reverting inwards when anxiety strikes, push back the darkness by thinking about how you can care for someone else. The instant a worrisome thought pops into your mind, push it back and consider writing a letter to a friend who might be lonely. Support a friend or acquaintance who’s going through a hard time financially or send an encouraging text to your roommate.

Go the extra mile and pick up groceries for your elderly neighbor or call your Grandma or Aunt to see how they’re doing. Do something kind and thoughtful for someone in your household—think about what might make them feel loved and lighter during this season. Spending time thinking about what others might need and fighting for their joy can do a lot to engage your joy as well.