By, Isam Itson III
In dark times God not only comforts us with his loving presence, he also encourages us with his light, which is the power and wisdom of his word. In the previous article we looked at Genesis chapter 1 verse 2 (Genesis 1:2) and the fact that the Spirit of God is with us in our darkest times. In the very next line in Genesis 1:3, we learn that God brings clarity, “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Not only is God with us in the dark, God gives us the wisdom to light our path forward and guide us through the darkness with his light.
God’s word is described in Psalm 105:119 as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It’s like walking at night, in the forest, with a flashlight. I can walk without stumbling in a circle of light even though everything around me is still dark. In Psalm 23 David speaks of this experience as God leading us through the valley of the shadow of death.
Genesis 1:5 reads, “God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” Sometimes at night we all get scared. But the morning will come. The psalmist wrote in Psalm 30:5, “that weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” The darkness is deep, but it’s passing. God’s presence brings his light, and in him there is no darkness at all. He guides us by his light through the darkness and brings us into the fullness of his glorious presence.
God’s word helps us orient ourselves and move forward through times of stress and turmoil as we continue pursuing God’s eternal purpose for us. We know from Jesus that the whole of God’s purpose and wisdom for us is summed up in loving God, and loving others, as we love ourselves. Especially loving our enemies. The golden rule. The degree to which we spend our time, energy, and attention loving God and others in word and actions, when times are good, is the degree to which we will be at peace through times of distress, grief, and despair. When we are mindful of God’s loving presence and honoring the power and wisdom of his word, with our trust and obedience, we can experience peace and rest through the most dark and distressing circumstances, because we are walking with God’s Spirit in the light of his word.
So, what does this look like in real life? How do we recover our peace and confidence after a storm hits? It looks like Jesus and his disciples in Mark 4:36-39,
And leaving the crowd, they took him (Jesus) with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
How do we recover our peace and confidence when we are feeling overwhelmed?
1. We cry out to God. After struggling on their own the disciples went to Jesus. They knew they were powerless to save themselves on their own. Shipwreck and drowning were imminent. We call these prayers of lament. We pour out our grief and despair to God in prayer. There is no shame in expressing our helplessness, fear, and anxiety to God.
2. We trust God’s word. We rest and take courage in his presence with us. We trust in God’s loving kindness and focus on his eternal purpose for us. Like Jesus sleeping in the back of the boat, we rest and renew our strength, confident in the shelter of God’s presence in spite of the storm. As we pray we remember who God is and trust what the scriptures reveal about him. We remember his faithfulness and love for us. We remember that God will make certain that we are able to fulfill his purpose for us. So when we encounter storms along the way we trust God’s ability to carry us through rather than despairing over our powerlessness.
3. Like Jesus, we share the peace of God’s love and faithfulness with others. If we are willing, God will use us to bring his light, love and wisdom to the people around us no matter how dire our immediate circumstances, just like he used Jesus. We stay close to each other like God, by his Spirit, stays close to us. We love God and honor his love for others, no matter what. That is always the right response whether times are good or bad.
When we find ourselves out of control and fearing for our lives with no idea how we will survive or find a safe way forward, remember, we are not alone. Through desperate times we move forward in the light God gives us in the moment, in spite of the surrounding darkness. We may have to slow down, but we keep moving.
God is with us and guarding over us, lighting the path ahead, and helping us to continue helping the people around us in his name. God is not afraid of the dark, so let’s rest and work in light of his faithful presence, wisdom, and power, rather than despairing over our weakness. When we are weak, He is strong.
1. Have you ever been in a dark place that you couldn’t see a way out of? How did you come through it?
2. How can we help people who are suffering and feeling overwhelmed by their circumstances?