When hope is dim and help seems distant, you will discover grace.
Our apology for any inconvenience to some EDL readers this morning who did not receive “Treasures in Darkness.” A problem occurred with a Yahoo email server mistaking EDL for Spam and chose “returned to sender.” For those, we will resend before the end of the day, as this error is corrected. I was awakened before daybreak this morning and impressed to write more about the subject so everyone will (hopefully) receive the expanded, updated version – some of you for the first time today and some for the second time! So all are blessed! Thank you for you understanding . .
Obedience welcomes light and banishes darkness.
“We have the Word as a light shining in a dark place.” 2 Peter 1:19 NIV
My thoughts and comments today are about “treasures in darkness.”
As a young teen, I worked the night shift in a truck stop one summer. At first, it was exciting staying up all night; though I probably played more pin ball than I pumped gas. After the first few hours, the night just seemed too long and too dark before the first daylight edged over the darkened, eastern horizon. And while in college, I had a summer job at a steel mill, usually on the night shift from 11 pm to 7 am. I never liked going to work when others were going to bed, or going to bed as others were just waking up. It seemed contrary to some natural order of things. In darkness, you do not see as well nor as far.
Dark nights of the soul are neither where you expect to find the best nor where or when you would prefer. But God has His own time and place for everything. God says there are treasures there in the dark that can be found no other place, at no other time, and in no other way. There is a spiritual darkening of the soul that is not literal or physical. At those times, God promised, “I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness.” Isaiah 45:3 NLT. There are many Biblical occurrences of God walking into the dark hours that people experience – physically, emotionally, or spiritually. God is present at distressing and difficult moments.
Gayle and I were newly married and I was just beginning my senior year in Bible college, when in a day’s time our future turned dark and uncertain. The darkest night of my soul may well have been that night after my father and sister died in a highway accident, and my mother was gravely injured and hospitalized in Sikeston, Missouri. After flying that same night from California, then driving several hours to her bedside, I fell wearily across the bed in a small motel across the highway from the hospital. Never a night felt darker. Treasure was the last thing I expected to find that dark night, but find it I did.
The last sermon I heard my Dad preach was about Solomon’s prayer that God would give him wisdom, “For I am as a child and do not know how to go out or come in.” Read 1 Kings 3:7-12 NKJV. As I prepared for ministry, feeling ill prepared, Solomon’s words became my confession and prayer. That night in a Sikeston motel room lit only by the motel sign outside my window, I opened my Bible and began to read. My eyes fell upon the words out of a dark night of the psalmist’s own soul, “From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made the heavens and the earth . . The Lord will preserve your going out and coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” Read Psalm 121:1-8 NKJV. I had found my treasure hidden in the dark night of my soul. “My God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28 NIV.
There in my most difficult of tragedies, God’s Word became the quiet, clear voice of a caring, compassionate God assuring my heart that my “comings and goings” would always be safe in His hands. “He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:3-4 NIV. God is not unaware nor uncaring before nor during your circumstance so troubling to you. When you feel God has withdrawn from you (though He has not and never will, even when you sometimes wish He would so you could blame Him or someone else for your pain and bewilderment), and your dark feelings of discouragement and doubt are troubling and confusing to you there is a path to peace.
The Biblical remedy is simple. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:7-8 NIV. God has not withdrawn from you; He never will. Your pain and confusion have gradually and unnoticeably created distance between you and your God, challenging your trust and convictions.
The next move is yours. Submit yourself, confessing your feelings (which means, “to say the same thing as God says”), doubts, fears, and all, then consciously draw near to God through your penitent decision to trust and obey His Word despite your emotions and fears. Rehearse a submissive posture daily, resume or begin spiritual practices such as: quiet times with God; childlike prayer; reading aloud and meditating on God’s Word, and quietly listening to the Holy Spirit in your heart and spirit. When hope is dim and help seems distant, you discover grace.
For some of you, this is a word of encouragement. For others, this is a word of instruction or correction while you are walking through puzzling, uncertain times, feeling alone and bewildered. There in the dark, when you have more questions than answers, you will find God near when you have a heart to trust Him and faith to believe Him. Peter wrote, “We have the Word . . you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:18 NIV.
God is your answer; God’s Word holds your answer. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of Life.” John 8:12 NIV. Light and darkness will not co-exist. Obedience welcomes light and banishes darkness with its doubt and disbelief.
Today, I pray for you to reach out to God; “He is not far from each one of us.” Acts 27:17 NIV.
I recommend to you a book I enjoyed by Ron Mehl, titled, “God Works the Night Shift.” The author examines the frequent, Bible references of God in the midst of people’s darkest hours, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The pastor and author knew of what he wrote for he had been dealing with cancer when writing the book.
Christian Communications 2016