Thursday, April 27, 2017

When Darkness Comes

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls...."

Translation: I don't have what I need for today. There's no visible fruit. I don't have anything stocked up, and nothing is coming. Today does not look good. And ya know, tomorrow doesn't look good either.No blossoms promise of fruit still to come. l don't have much hope long term, either. No crops today means no crops next year. No cows and no sheep now mean no livestock later.

= My life is hard, it's dark, and don't see it getting better anytime soon.
(from Habakkuk 3;17, by the way)

Anyone ever been there? In that spot when things look bad and feel bad and sound bad and maybe ARE bad? Has anyone been in that darkness? Have you been there?! Certainly. Certainly and surely I am not the only one who has ever felt like I am in a pitch black room with no exists and no cracks of light and no air flow. Life can feel that way. You know how I know?
Not only have I been trained in mental health (50% of this nation are or have been diagnosed with depression-a constant darkness-by the way.) But I have listened to people who see darkness all around them, and hello-I've been a human for 23 years. Grief, trial, chaos, sickness, failure and sin plague this broken world. But just in case your own human experience is not enough to convince you, look at Scripture. In this verse, HABAKKUK FELT THE SAME WAY.

So did David when he cried "How long, Oh Lord?"
and Job when everything was taken
As well as Elijah, Hannah, Paul, and many others.

As Matt Chandler points out in a sermon called "A Glimpse of Maturity", darkness is a part of life. Our problems and pain do not always resolve quickly.

But, as I type that, I'm reminded of Isaiah 45: 7 in which God says "I create light and form darkness"
So, darkness is not a by product of light, but a creation in and of itself. Do you know what that means? It means the darkness has a purpose.

AND. Psalm 139 gives us a beautiful promise:

"Even the darkness is not dark to You. The night is as bright as day. for darkness is as light to You."

Okay, so here's the application. Does your situation look hopeless? Do you look around you and see nothing but destruction or loss?  Maybe circumstances are totally out of your control, or maybe you've been sowing a certain seed-praying a certain prayer, doing certain activities, investing in a certain person- and hoping to see a result but have none yet or it looks like your efforts have failed and you see no fruit if your labor. How dark does it feel?
Good news:  The darkness you're in, no matter how bleak and black it seems, is not dark to God.

I repeat. Your. Darkness. Is. Not. Dark. To. God.

When your boss fires you,
when your health fails,
when your family members die,
when your heart hurts,
when the future is unknown,
when your therapist or doctor doesn't know the answer,
when your church hurts you,
your friends betray you,
your family hates you,
or when you feel like God is distant
and before you know it you find yourself screaming at the sky and punching your steering wheel or crying on your bedroom floor asking "God, when are you going to do something?!"

Your darkness is not dark to God.
He is outside of time and space, so he sees so much more than you can. He sees the other side to your story...and I promise there is another side. Ecclesiastes promises that there is a time for everything and that everything is proper in its time. Beyond that, Philippians 1:6 states that God will complete the work he began in you. AND God promises in Romans 8 that ALL things work together for those who love God and are called. All. Every little thing. Every season of darkness. It will work for good. We serve a God who is faithful and good, and he sits on his throne high above any and every dark cloud that oppresses us so strongly. He's not scared by that cloud, not surprised by the cloud, and he is certainly not blinded by the cloud, like you and I often tend to be.

The rest of the verse I quoted at the top of this blog says this..."Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk understood a piece of the puzzle I often miss. Sure, the situation or season may be dark. Today may look bad and tomorrow may look worse, but God is bigger. Habakkuk understood. Habakkuk preached to his own soul and declared God's saving power in the midst of turmoil. Habakkuk chose to believe in the God who created darkness, can change things in an instant, and will carry us through when He chooses not to.

Darkness is terrifying, confusing, and suffocating at times, but I pray today you place your hope on the higher ground that is our Sovereign and sure Father.

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