Perhaps more than at any time in my generation, at least in the West, people are experiencing days, weeks and perhaps months of emotional, psychological and spiritual darkness. Some sink in to depression, anxiety and lethargy – and many question the meaning of it all.
This is not only true of our world in general – but also true for many Christians – true believers in Hope.
I think it is easy enough to be a Christian – a person of positivity and faith when things are going well enough. But when we experience dark days, loss or illness and when all hope is clouded or perhaps removed all together – it is much more difficult. Many of us, I think, live under the illusion that bad things should not happen to good people – so when the darkness descends on us – when our health is removed, when our prayers remain unanswered, when our child falls ill, or worse, we see it all as proof of the absence of the goodness of God. Indeed some will conclude at this point that God does not exist at all – that we are all alone in a universe of random chance and unpredictability.
Any yet you cannot read the Bible, or the lives of those who have lived through dark times and maintained their faith, and believe that any of us are promised a life free from dark times.
The Bible has a lot to say about darkness. At the genesis of time it was from darkness that God created order and balance in our world. There is a deeper spiritual truth here we would do well to ponder. It was in the middle of a ‘terrifying darkness’ (Genesis 15: 11-13) that God revealed to Abraham the future hope of his descendants. It was from the ‘heart of darkness’ (Deuteronomy 5:22-24) that God revealed himself to Moses and the people of Israel. And in a song recorded in 2 Samuel 22 King David tells us that God can come to us ‘shrouded in darkness’.
Although is seems like a contraction in terms the truth is that there can be light in darkness. Psalm 18, which I learned to sing as a child, speaks of this. Here are some of its verses (Scottish Metrical Psalter) –
‘He also bowed down the heav’ns,
and thence he did descend;
And thickest clouds of darkness did
under his feet attend.
And he upon a cherub rode,
and thereon he did fly;
Yea, on the swift wings of the wind
his flight was from on high.
He darkness made his secret place:
about him, for his tent,
Dark waters were, and thickest clouds
of th’ airy firmament.
The Lord will light my candle so,
that it shall shine full bright:
The Lord my God will also make
my darkness to be light.’
This theme of darkness and light is, of course, a constant theme throughout the Psalms – simply because they reflect the reality of life. Here are a couple more that reveal the positive in the negative –
‘Light shines in the darkness for the godly.’
‘I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night — but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.’
Psalm 139: 11&12
And then we have the enigmatic promise of God through the prophet Isaiah –
‘And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness— secret riches.’
Today, if you find yourself in a place of darkness, may God in his great mercy and compassion give you the treasure of his presence, comfort and revelation.
‘If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God.’