For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
There are times for each of us when it appears that all light, all hope, all answers, all strength, all is quickly fading, all hope is "eeking" out of our lives and we can do nothing to stop the darkness from coming. It is a wilderness of soul when we feel that we are at an impasse and do not know what to do or where to go. We are tempted to think that we cannot go one step more. We are tempted to think that the Lord has abandoned us.
Often, we forget what the real implications of living in a really fallen world can wreak in our lives. We are surprised by our challenges, which is why Peter said, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you," I Peter 4:12
God led Abraham into the wilderness where he was asked to sacrifice, to kill his only, beloved son--the one for whom he had prayed and waited for years and years.
Joseph was brought unjustly into prison after being falsely accused of immorality by a devious woman. He was left there for 10 years.
Moses kept sheep and wandered the wilderness for 40 years before he became the one who would lead the nation of Israel out of slavery.
Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted.
Paul had troubles endlessly as a part of his spiritual battle.
Should we, who have dedicated our lives to Him and His kingdom, expect our lives to be any different?
There is a mysterious value from heaven's point of view to being in the darkness of life in this world and still choosing to believe in a God who seems to have forgotten us. Darkness is part of the school for the soul, to delve into what really matters. To put away all that is frivolous or vain and to sift through what really matters. When we are desperate, we are serious, focussed on what life is all about, what He is all about. Our testimony through the darkness is precious to God. We become humble because we realize we have no power, no strength of our own to be able to handle life or to stay alive in a healthy way apart from God's intervention--his help, strength, wisdom, provision, leading.
Isaiah reminds us that some darkness is allowed by God, and does not mean He has abandoned us.
Who is among you that fears the LORD, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. Isaiah 50: 10
Wait....in the darkness. Be still in the darkness. Submit in the darkness. Trust in the darkness.
This passage is interesting because it is suggests the one who is in the darkness is one of God's faithful--one who loves, fears, obeys the Lord --He is the one who is in darkness.
Even in this darkness, God tells us what to do---trust in the name of the Lord our God and rely on Him.
But, when we find ourselves in this place, we see ourselves for what we really are. Our souls are laid bare. We see our limitations, our vulnerability, our weakness, our inability to do anything to save ourselves.
Our works will not help us. We do not have righteousness of our own. Our own strength cannot save us. We will only be saved, if by the mercy of God, He chooses to work and redeem us and restore us.
The situation for each one might be different: disappointment in relationships; a prodigal or impossible child; financial issues; loneliness; failure, deep soul wounds and rejection at the hands of those who we thought we needed to love us; broken dreams, people who lie about us, even as we see it happening to David in the Psalms.
Whatever the situation, we feel alone, unnoticed, helpless.
Just the place where God can teach us to rely on Him. He so desires to be the one who fulfills our greatest longings. He wants us to know His voice of guidance, purpose, love and mercy.
I have seen that all of those in my life who are the wisest, truest, most spiritually real and deep, in humility and gentleness, those who know God so well, have suffered deeply. They seem to really know their savior, have had to walk through many such times of doubt, many such times of testing. And yet, when they have lived through it, they are deeper, more aware of their need for God, more thankful for His mercy, and,
more focussed on eternity, more compassionate towards those who are lost, more humble in their demeanor.
God is not cruel and he can't be tempted by evil. He is always loving us, watching over us, willing His pleasure and strength. But if we are to be His warriors, we must learn to trust only in Him. We war against the darkness in this world to bring the light of Christ.
Darkness leads us to humility--dependence on Him. Humility leads to developing a dependence on the Holy Spirit, which leads to spiritual strength. And that is the only place real righteousness and strength can come from, from Him.
Sometimes, in all of our efforts to control life and to accomplish our works, we subtly think our success depends on ourselves. Our happiness can be found by striving enough.
And so a loving Father must bring us to our own limitations, so that we can live above our mere worldly focus and become more familiar with His strength and mercy and love and ways.
Without Him, I have no hope, no formula, no ability to live in this futile world.
"Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day." Psalm 139: 12
With Him, and in the depths of the reality of the spiritual world, I find a peace and beauty and mercy I could not have had by seeking to provide it myself. He so longs to be close to us, to whisper His love and goodness and purposes into our ears. But sometimes, He must stop us in our tracks to make us be silent, to make us sit still so that we will focus on Him. When our lives feel dark, He is beyond the darkness, He is light, He is ruling over all of these pathways.
I am a spiritual wimp. I do not like to wait, I do not like patience. I do not submit naturally. But, as a good Father, he holds my hand and leads me to what is really true, and in the end I am thankful.
One of the hardest experiences for me as a mother is to have to watch my own children walk through their own seasons of darkness. As a mother of four children who are each learning to trust God for themselves, I have had to see them through many seasons of difficulty, injustice, temptations, discouragement, each one in his or her own way, seeking answers to the mysteries of their own lives. It is hard for me to walk through--even harder to see them have to walk through.
And yet, if I desire them to be holy, I must let Him have His way in their lives. I must trust them to learn to choose to hold fast to Him. In these times, they are building spiritual muscle for themselves.
I know this post is long, but perhaps some of you are in this place and will be ministered by our own life process. I have met with several women in the past weeks who are at crisis crossroads in their lives. They are tempted to compromise their ideals, to give up, to give in, because the world gives us permission to do so.
But it is in this very darkness where your faith is so important, your choice will speak to all in your life of His faithfulness when you choose to believe in His goodness even when you do not feel it. I have lived long enough to see that He is holding me, carrying me every step and that our choices of faith became a beacon of hope to others who go through their own pathways of darkness.
Your story and experience becomes your platform for encouraging others and showing them compassion.
May God grant each of us the grace to believe and worship Him through all of our days.
So very excited to see that Christianity today chose a Different Kind of Hero as their devotional book of the week. If you are weary--you will love this excerpt from the life of weary Elijah. Get the book and enjoy sweet encouragement from our precious Lord. Here is where you can read the devotionals for this week. HERE