“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:10-11). God is calling us to endure, to be patient, to believe him when there are no explanations and no resources to save ourselves from our trials. To trust him in the times of affliction, loneliness and pain. When our bodies are in weakness, our reputation is attacked and we suffer personal losses-this is when we learn to walk with Him in the dark. Isaiah asks, “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” (Isa. 50: 10). Who will be faithful to God, lean upon God alone for support and walk with him in the dark?
Where are those who will acclimate their “eyes of faith” while in the dark? Remember God’s friend Abraham? He walked with God in the dark. He had no light at all for many years in his life. He was as good as dead (Heb. 11:12) and his wife was childless (Rom 4:19). In himself he could produce nothing, only failure at best and futility at worst. In the midnight of his life, it was THEN that God spoke, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, ‘So shall thy seed be.’ ” (Gen 15:5). These are the stars of God’s promises to him. He could not see them unless he was in the dark. The more he was in the dark, the more he stared at heaven, the more stars he could see! It was when a horror of darkness (Gen. 15:12) gripped him he saw God’s faithfulness, pledge and oath and covenant in Christ! Do not despise the eye-opening chastening of the Lord! The eyes of your hearts will see and understand the promises of the scriptures like, “a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” (see Eph 1:17-18; 1 Pet 1:19-20).
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and learned what it was to, “sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; darkness of the pit.” (Psa. 107: 10). The Bible says, “whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron. Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” (Psa. 105: 18-19). Ah how so many hear God’s promises and acknowledge they are true but do not want the word of the Lord to test and refine them. But when we bottom out in some crater of betrayal or we feel shackled and unable to move in our circumstances-it is then, like Joseph, our eyes become more accustomed, more sensitive to light as we are in the dark. The longer the period of darkness, the more stars one can see. The promises of God that seemed dim and distant now take on a brighter magnitude and become “exceeding great and precious!” (2 Peter 1:4). Do not worry night will not last forever. Richard Sibbes asks, “Is it not an unreasonable speech for a man at midnight to say, “It will never be day?” So it is an unreasonable thing for a man that is in trouble to say, “O Lord, I shall never get free of this; it will always be thus with me.”
In the dark our desire steadily becomes focused on Christ rather than deliverance. What was blurred becomes plain as day as we embrace Christ our light and our salvation (Psa. 27:1-2). This is where we must be like Moses for “he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Heb 11: 27). Moses for so many years was unseen by men, and known only to God. Is this such a grievous thing to you dear child of God, to be unknown, or even despised by men? The Bible says, “He made darkness his secret place.” (Psa. 18:11). Do you understand this? The dark can be better, and to him that ears to hear, we learn much in the darkness of obscurity as God hides us in the thick cloud of his presence. God is in the darkness and he obscures the godly whom he has set apart for himself (Psa. 4:3). What is the temporary pleasures of the sinful world and its short lived fame to the child of God who would rather, “suffer affliction with the people of God…esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches?” (Heb. 11:25-26). Even if a thick darkness rests upon the entire earth, God’s glorious light will be seen upon us (Isa 60:2). We walk in the light of God’s fellowship always, despite our dark trials (1 John 1:5-7). Scripture testifies, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Ps 84:11).
Job described his trials in terms like, “he hath set darkness in my paths.” (19:8). Paraphrasing Job 17 he was just resolved to die. That is real pain my friends, where death is preferable to life even in the heart of an elect child of God. Everything went wrong, “When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness.” (30:26). Darkness! He had lost all hope, his plans were smashed and his heart was broken. His only comfort was a well-built coffin so at least when he dies he could have a family reunion with the children he has lost. The picture of his friendship with God was like the old negatives of photos that when developed in the darkroom the result is the beautiful color pictures. It seemed like all was darkness around him, so many trials, it seemed so negative and yet we see in the end the picture developed into bright colors of God’s mercy and tenderness the whole time. Job’s help was only coming from God. He must learn what God had to teach him in the darkroom of the soul. He walked with God in the dark. Now there are times, when for some unexplained reasons we will look for Christ and find he has withdrawn himself and the sense of his presence is not there. You call to him in prayer and he does not seem like he is there (Song 5:6). We begin to seek him in the dark times, not relying on feelings, circumstance, opinion or any resource of the flesh and will we will not rest and until we have found him and restrain him (Song 3:1-5). We must apprehend him who has apprehended us! (Phil. 3:12).
The darkness makes us concentrate on where we are going. Your focus is not on peripheral things, it is paying attention on making progress and maturing spiritually and not tripping in weakness. God has ordained both light and darkness (Gen 1:4). The darkness and light are alike to him (Ps 139:12). He employs both in his plans. In the dark we must rely on God’s Word which is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps 119:1-5) and not be blinded by the good times when we are tempted to rely less on God. Seeking Jesus Christ must be our priority. He is the author and editor of our faith, including the affliction of trial and relief of the trial where patience has her perfect work in our hearts so that we are growing spiritually (James 1:4). In the dark we read God’s promises by the light of the Holy Spirit’s teaching and to ponder his words, set our attention upon it, let his words supply our life, health and resource! The Bible promises, “When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” (Prov 6:22-23). This sorrow you are experiencing carries a special blessing! The gift of tears comes with the promises of the God of every comfort. Our hearts become strengthened as we wait upon God alone (Ps 27:14). He who works in darkness and mystery has a given you his heart in a friendship sweeter than anyone can describe. The half has not yet been told! This is when God will bless you. In the dark times, when it does not matter if you see help or hinderance, friend nor foe, angel nor devil! All that matters is when you can see God and his promises and then walk with Him in the dark.
© 2011 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney
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