Darkness is not usually associated with a good place in life. To enter a dark place is, very often, associated with sorrow, depression, loneliness, illness and pointlessness.
At this present time many are experiencing these things. Life has been turned upside down in so many ways. Isolation, helplessness, loneliness, friendlessness, frustration and the feeling of pointlessness are the daily experience of many. Some are even questioning very point of life itself – and others have come to the conclusion that everything is futile.
These are dangerous days in more ways than one! What can we say to those living in the experience of their own darkness?
Before I say anything I must qualify it by saying that I do not believe we can give packaged or easy pat answers to complex and serious questions such as this. But we can perhaps offer hope that, even in the midst of, or indeed perhaps because of, such an experience, we can emerge stronger, renewed, with fresh direction, purpose and meaning.
The Bible has a lot to say about darkness – both negative and positive. Some of the very first words in the Bible are these –
“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Genesis 1:2 (KJV)
I have come to believe that, very often, the Bible has a strong spiritual message just below the literal meaning of words – and I believe that is true here.
The Spirit of God works in dark places. He can use the apparent empty place of complete confusion (formlessnesses) and darkness to create something new, something wonderful, something that has his stamp and approval upon it – all from the place of darkness.
Another incident in the Bible, full of spiritual meaning, is found in the book of Exodus when God led the people of Israel through a barren wilderness by means of a cloud. At one point the cloud, a symbol of direction, is said to have been darkness to others but a place of light to God’s people.
Moses, the leader of God’s people at this point, had first met God in a dazzling experience of light (a burning bush). Now, we discover that God, when he wanted to speak directly to Moses says –
“Behold, I come to you in the thick cloud …”
Exodus 19:9 (KJV)
A short time later, when God wants to speak Moses in a more significant way, he speaks, not in a cloud but in the darkness!
“And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.”
Exodus 20:21 (KJV)
God was where? In the cloud and in the darkness! We see this again later in the Old Testament when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to the temple in Jerusalem –
“When the priests came out of the Holy Place, a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of the Lord. Then Solomon prayed, “O Lord, you have said that you would live in a thick cloud of darkness…”
1 Kings 8: 10 – 12 (NLT)
And later on again we have this enigmatic statement about God from the man atypical of suffering –
“He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death.”
Job 12:22 (KJV)
Or as we have it in a more modern translation –
“He makes known hidden truth from the darkness, and brings deep darkness to light.” (NLV)
Then we have the assertion of King David – “He made darkness his secret place ..” (Psalm 18:11 KJV) and of Isaiah “And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places … ” (Isaiah 45:3 KJV). And so we could go on.
Darkness is not all that it seems! The place of isolation, the dark experience, the long hour of suffering, the day of pain and loneliness need not be empty of reason, renewal and revelation. God can be found in our darkness – and in our darkness he can reveal himself in ways we have never know before. If you are reading this in your own dark place today I pray that God will reveal himself – and that you will be able to sing with the Psalmist –
“The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.”
Psalm 18:28 (NLT)