Read 1 John 1:5-7
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God” (Isaiah 50:10 NLT).
Darkness can be interpreted in many ways, but it is almost universally understood to be a state we, as humans, do not want to exist in. One cannot see well in the dark and moving around when one cannot see is quite treacherous. In fact, since the beginning of time, people have referred to such a state as “being in an abyss” or being in “a void”. Definitively, this kind of void is a completely empty space, emptied of everything including light.
One of my favorite bands released an album during Lent 2021 called, Songs of Death and Resurrection. Demon Hunter is a metal band whose members are Christian, and this album was a collection of their ballads, each performed acoustically (including strings and piano). One of the songs on there is a song called Praise the Void. For Ryan Clark, who wrote it, the song is about people who believe there is no life after death and how they think that death will bring about an exit out of the darkness of life.
For Ryan, a Christian, this concept makes little to no sense. Jesus is the light in the darkness, and he is the ONLY one who can lead us out of it. His salvific work on the cross has given us the way out of the void we find ourselves in without God. Thus, when he sings the words, “Praise the void for this love, this wasted love”, he’s being facetious and using sarcasm to express how ridiculous he finds believing in “nothing” or in a “void” is.
As a Christian I, of course, agree with Ryan; however, a little while ago, I was listening to this song and I heard something else in the lyrics. They spoke to me in a different way than they had in the past. That is the beauty of art, it is created with a specific intent, yet it is always being interpreted by different people differently. As the lyrics entered my ears and swirled around my head and heart, they began to speak of a different void, one that I have been locked in before and could always find myself back there again. The void I speak of is the void of loneliness, of not fitting in, of not being valued or, at the very least, the perception that one lives in such a void.
In that moment, these words took on a whole new meaning to me: “But here in the dark I feel nothing, I see no one. No solace at all, we once heard the lasting call, but now I praise the void for this love, this wasted love. Praise the void for we found nothing is enough.” In those words, I was reminded of that empty feeling of being alone and abandoned, not feeling the presence of God and feeling rejected by the world…including those dearest me.
Some of that loneliness was real, some of it was perceived due to mental illness, but all of it felt real while in the void. The love…the wasted love…reminds me of all of the energy…the blood, the sweat, the tears…the countless sleepless nights and anxious days trying to get someone, anyone, to notice and LOVE me. In the void, that lasting call of Christ choosing and loving me seemed non-existent even though I could remember it and hope seemed elusive at best.
Yet, at some point, Christ broke through the void and the light led me out of the darkness and back to that lasting call. After all, it wouldn’t be lasting if it didn’t last, no? So, now I praise the void. Well, and this is perhaps where the interpretation weakens a bit, I praise God for the void. I praise God for the void because while I felt isolated in it, the void actually brought me closer to Jesus Christ. I praise God for the love…the seeemingly wasted love…because I still dared to love and that is NEVER a waste. I praise God for the void, because, in the end nothing (BUT CHRIST) is enough.
Of course, I still appreciate the original meaning of the song as I cannot wrap my head around believing that millions of years of human relations to a higher power has been somehow canceled out by nothingness, of which there is no scientific proof for either. But this new fresh interpretation has really been meaningful to me and I hope you find it meaningful too. Never be afraid to find new meanings in art or in life in general. God is speaking to us in ways that no human could ever predict, and the faithful will always be open to discovering new meanings in otherwise familiar things. Remember, authors merely write the words based off of what is on their heart; however, it is Christ who speaks through them with his lasting call.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“We become aware of the void as we fill it.” ― Antonio Porchia
Lord, help steer me away from the void and, when brokenness places me back in it, help lead your servant back to the light. Amen.