There are times in our lives when it seems like everything has gone dark. Bleak. Black. Hopeless. The forces of good are being overrun, and the forces of Mordor are triumphing. Helm’s Deep is about to fall. The White Tower is in danger of being taken.
We can’t see the way out, and we can’t see how any good will ever come out of the situation. When a child wanders from the Lord it feels dark. When debilitating migraines take hold, it seems dark. When we can’t make the mortgage payment, it seems black. When our marriage is struggling, despair sets in.
Where is God? Why isn’t he coming through? Has he abandoned me? What will happen to me and to my family?
After his wife died, C.S Lewis penned the book A Grief Observed. Speaking of the constant darkness he felt, he said:
How often – will it be for always? – how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, “I never realized my loss till this moment”? The same leg is cut off time after time.”
How long will it be? That perfectly encapsulates the feeling of being in the dark. A sense that things will never get better. That we’ll never have hope again. That at some point we walked under a sign that said, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”
Is there a way out of the dark?
It’s in the dark moments that we need to turn our eyes away from our circumstances and look to the one who is writing the story.
The Bible is full of bleak, black, helpless, hopeless moments. At age 75 God promised that he would make Abraham into a great nation. For twenty-five years Abraham waited, watching his body shrivel and shrink, watching the fulfillment of the promise become less and less likely.
How many times during those twenty-five years did Abraham feel in the dark? How many times did he feel hopeless? How many times did he say, “How long O Lord?”
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But finally, at the age of one-hundred, God gave him a son. God came through. He was faithful. God was writing a story that Abraham was only aware of during select moments. He was only aware of one paragraph in God’s great story.
Joseph had divinely inspired dreams in which he saw his family bowing down before him. Light. Then Joseph was sold into slavery. Dark. The Lord blessed everything he did in the house of Potiphar. Light. Potiphar’s wife had Joseph thrown into prison. Dark. Joseph correctly interprets the dreams of the official cupbearer and baker. Light. Joseph languishes in prison for two more years before he is called to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. Dark. Joseph is made second in command in Egypt. Light.
David killed Goliath and was king. David walked through the Valley of Death. During his cameo in God’s story, he experienced triumphs and defeats. But God wasn’t done writing the story.
Even Jesus experienced moments of profound darkness. He was rejected by his own family as a madman. People attempted to kill him multiple times. His own friends abandoned him when he needed them the most. And finally, everything went dark at the cross.
The point is, God often takes us through the darkness. He does this so that we might learn to trust him with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding.
God wants us to know that he is our Shepherd. He leads us beside still waters, and he leads us through the valley of death. He wants us to learn to trust him in both places. Often God lets our circumstances get so extreme that our only hope is God himself.
When our story gets dark we must look to the Author of our story. The story may seem bleak, but we can be absolutely sure that the Author is good.
Are you in the dark right now? Look up to the Author of your story.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)
In the end, there is one great, bright light that shines in the blackness. Christ was abandoned by God and swallowed by the dark so I would never be separated from God.
Jesus experienced the worst part of the story so I can be part of the glorious ending.
You may be in the dark, but you’re not alone.