A Cry in the Dark

October 15, 2016

by Maria Fontaine

It’s easy to group people into categories—race, personality types, belief systems, and many others. I think we all do that at times. However, if we’re willing to dig deeper, to make the effort to understand what’s beneath the surface, we can find a fascinating and endless variety of personalities, experiences, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses that all combine to make a person unique.

Discovering what could be called the heartcry of each person is one of the most satisfying privileges we can have. This is a vital part of witnessing. It’s seeking to understand people—their joys and sorrows, their fulfillment and disillusionment, their unspoken desires, and how, in their own way, they’re searching for what is real and true. When witnessing in this way you’re walking alongside someone and helping them to sort through the sometimes tangled and complicated expressions of their heart so they can find a way to connect to the one who understands them fully and can satisfy their most desperate, and even unspoken, pleas.

That’s why I love to share examples of the many approaches that people have used in their witness to enable them to make those deep connections with others. Their testimonies demonstrate the need to look for clues, even in something we might consider to be a negative in someone’s life, because we might find hidden there the key to their heart, which can help them to be drawn closer to Jesus.

A member of TFI in her 60s told me about an ongoing witnessing experience she has had. She regularly communicates via email and an occasional Skype chat with a 28-year-old man who has come to regard her as a confidant. This man listens to a lot of heavy metal music and some death metal.

I’ll let her explain the rest.

About eight months ago he suggested that I watch an hour and a half documentary on heavy metal music that he sent me the link to. It gave me more of an understanding of this music and the emotions that it expresses. Also, he sent me links to some of the songs he likes. It was a little hard for me to listen to them at first, but as I did, I found through this I was able to see more of his heart. I learned how, within the crowd that likes heavy metal music, there are some for whom it voices the frustration they feel with today’s world and how they feel they’re unable to do anything about it.

You don’t have to like a style of music in order to gain an understanding of its message. Rather than talking against heavy metal music or just ignoring it or urging him to replace it with the kind of music that is more meaningful for her, she began asking him questions about it.

I think this illustrates an important key for personal witnessing. By listening to the music that obviously held meaning for him, and by asking the Lord to speak to her about that music, she began to grasp what he was trying to show her—his deepest feelings, his heartcry.

This woman went on to explain:

I sought the Lord in prayer to find what the next step was, and the Lord showed me something very interesting to tell my friend. The next time I had a chance to talk to him about the music that he likes, I told him that I see those songs as expressing his prayers, and that I know God is listening to him.

He was surprised to hear that. He hadn’t thought of the songs as prayers before, but he agreed that they express the plea of his heart, and said that he has wished God would hear him.

I explained to him that Jesus is not a lot of rules. He’s not about fear and punishment. He’s alive, and He loves us so much that He is willing to be in the deepest, darkest, most frustrated parts of our hearts, and He is there to help us when we ask Him to.

The last time I got a chance to talk with this man, the conversation centered around his life. He was amazed at how various things were falling into place, and I told him, “You see, when God’s with you in something, He makes things work together. He has heard the prayers of your heart and He is answering. Jesus is with you even in the dark places, and He’s helping you.” He got it.

When it’s the right time, I’d like to send a Gospel of John to him, and then more of the Gospels. For now, I’m praying that he will talk to Jesus, knowing that He is really there with Him.

Most people want to be understood. They long to know that someone “gets” what is on their heart. However imperfect their expression of these things, they are trying to express what they see as wrong or what they long for or need help to change. That is in essence what a prayer is; it seeks for answers, for truth that can meet the needs of their heart. I believe the Lord hears those sincere heartcries.

We’re so blessed because over the years we’ve experienced so much of the Lord’s love and the heaven in our hearts that He can give. He’s also taken many of us into situations in which we have to face a world where trust and faith are often crowded out by greed, violence, and hatred, in order to give us an understanding of what many others face. Jesus expressed it this way, in prophecy:

So many search for solutions to what they see is wrong with themselves or this world. They struggle to find the answers in their own abilities or in other people or things, only to end up frustrated, bitter, and angry because nothing has fully satisfied, nothing has been able to give them the answers they want. But that is why they need you. When you empathize with them, care about them, let them know that they are understood and that they matter to you, you are telling them that I am there for them.

That’s the greatest gift you can give them. Your job isn’t to force them into the light by condemning their imperfect attempts to find hope or relief from what is burdening them. Your job is to manifest My light to draw them to Me. As they realize that you are listening and understanding, they will eventually begin to realize that I understand them and love them. I’m there no matter where they are.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in hell, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
Psalm 139:7–12 ESV