Those Times of Darkness

Many of us have read and discussed the story of Job, how he had to face the most difficult period of his faith. During that time, he began to meditate on the frailty of his life, and the words that he used makes it appear that he had never, as yet, received a clear assurance of the life that was to come. To him, the “land of the shadow of death” was apparently a “land of thick darkness, as darkness itself . . . anyone that goes down to the grave will never come up again.”

His entire life he had walked with God and had known His blessings but, through his affliction, he would learn something he was never able to learn in his prosperity.

Ecclesiastes 7:3 says, “sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better and gains gladness,” that “sadness has a refining influence on us” (Living Bible). “For God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life. We should never regret His sending it” (II Corinthians 7:10).

It’s unfortunate that this “refining influence” can’t be found in our times of peace and prosperity. However, the realities of God’s Kingdom will only be unveiled to us when the love of everything this world has to offer has been stripped from our grasp.

Purifying fire and times of crisis will cause us to get things out of our lives that we didn’t even realize were in there.

Let me illustrate this if I can: Let’s pretend you just created a vase out of clay, then placed it in a kiln to harden. The extreme pressure caused by the heat hardens and purifies the clay. Any foreign substances in the clay, like a piece of straw or dirt, would cause the clay to expand and to explode, marring the vase. So it is our lives.

If there are any impurities in our lives, the stress of adversity will force them to the surface and if not dealt with then, would, I believe, destroy us or at least, our testimony. and cause anger to rise against our Father.

Sorrow will teach us lessons that laughter never could. It has been said that there can be no Pentecost without first experiencing a Calvary. There can be no Canaan without first going through the Wilderness. It is just the weakness of our human nature.

I have heard it argued the wilderness experience of the Israelites wasn’t at all necessary. The argument says that the reason the people of God had to spend that time wandering around in the desert was because of their own sin, that it wasn’t God’s desire or plan.

This may be true, although, the scripture also says, “when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine Country, although that was shorter. For God said, ‘if they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea” (Exodus 13: 17-18).

So, even before the people of Israel sinned and had to wander for 40 years in the wilderness, God already knew something about them. He knew that they weren’t ready to go right into the Promised Land. It has been said that it took one day for God to take Israel out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to take Egypt out of Israel.

Moses told them to remember how the Lord led them in the desert for 40 years, “to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble you and test you, to do you good in the end” (Deuteronomy 8:2-5, 16).

Clearly, God’s purpose for the wilderness journey was for training, for discipline, for instruction. God was acting as a father to provide for His people. Part of His provision was to bring His children through the wilderness.

God does indeed have a purpose and He is bringing us into the land of promise. However, when we get there, we have to be mature enough to accept the responsibilities and privileges of that inheritance. He has to lead us through a process of growth, of training, of instruction so that we will not only be brought out of Egypt but that Egypt would be brought out of us.I have read many books that explain how many of the “Great Saints,” had experienced times they could only describe as the absence of God when they had entered a time like a “Dark Night.” A time when their God seemed to have hidden from them.

Abraham had a time where he was overcome by the horror of great darkness. There is no doubt that these times  represented one of the necessary lessons for them to share deeply in the sufferings of Christ. He, too, felt that his Father had forsaken Him.

But what about the rest of us? We are a long way from that most intimate fellowship. Well, there is another much common reason for darkness. We find it in the Psalms:

Some sat in darkness, dark as death,
    prisoners bound fast in iron chains.
because they had rebelled against God’s commands,
    and had despised the advice given Most High (Psalm 107:10-11)

But, I’ll tell you what, before we start dignifying our own experience of darkness by identifying it with the experiences of those great heroes of our faith, we need to determine if we have indeed disobeyed the Lord in some way, or maybe have been angry at Him because His plans were at odds with our cherished plans. Do you remember the saga of Israel’s journey to the Promised Land? They had quite a few difficulties along the way, didn’t they? And they railed against God, didn’t they? What they overlooked was the fact that His goal for them was a rich land where their every dream would come true!

I don’t know about you, but I need to pray about now . . .

Father, so many times I have thought my ways were better than your ways. Oh, how foolish I have been. I am so sorry. Please forgive me for the many times I ignored your wisdom and guidance in my life. I do thank you for your promise that you are the light of the world, and no one who follows you will wander around in the dark. In fact, we will have the light of life! (John8:12)

Doulos Studies

(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you—a to the list: Mail List)

I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.

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