I enjoy using different translations of the scriptures for reading. The alternate phrasings help me pay attention to the ‘old’ stories; sometimes differing words prod me to dig a bit deeper. My mind has been drawn to the purpose of suffering lately, and a thought from my Spurgeon devotion took me to the Creation story.
Genesis 1:2 The earth was barren, with no form of life; it was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness. But the Spirit of God was moving over the water.
Verses four and five go on saying, “God separated between the light and darkness. And God called the light, Day. And He called the darkness, Night.” God chose to include night in this world. He could have banished the darkness but here we see He allowed it to remain.
God entered the dark, roaring emptiness and spoke light into it. He did not eliminate the dark; He illuminated the dark and called it day. He enjoys doing that same creative work in our lives every day—if we let Him!
One day there will be no darkness remaining, but for now, it is part of the earthly experience. We can rejoice because we know He does all things perfectly. Our human sight helps us glimpse some beauty in darkness. Shadows create depth in scenery; dark lines bring things into clearer focus. Truly, darkness delineates God’s grandeur in a way nothing else could. For another exciting perspective on darkness, consider these ‘bizarre’ words from Paul:
Philippians 3:10 and 11: All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, so that somehow I also may be raised to life.
Paul was not seeking suffering. He simply was saying that the encounter with suffering and death allows us to enter into the power and life Christ exhibited.
We don’t need to seek out problems; this life simply includes them. When we do hit the dark spots, the valley of the shadow of death, there need be no fear. That valley pops up in more ways than physical concerns. Sometimes the death we fear is the death of our hopes and dreams. We reach the limits of those things in which we have trusted and suddenly realize there is no life in them. And that is the purpose of darkness--to move us toward seeking the light. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In Him there is no shadow or darkness, He is Light.
If you are in a valley today or facing a dark time, it really is okay. It does not mean you are failing in your Christian walk. It does not mean God is not with you, loving you. In fact, it means there is a new dimension of Christ ready for you to explore. One of my favorite verses is in the book of Nahum, and it says “clouds are the dust of His feet.” In the dark, Jesus is incredibly near! Accept the dark as the entry point of God’s creative work in your life—and watch with awe!
The fellowship of suffering is a path to know Him more. Be honest in your pain, but take your grief to Him. Let Him show you how He truly meets every need. He will give you the Light you need to take the next step. As you walk in that Light, you can know that God is surrounding you with His power and life. With Him working in your life, you will bring life to others on the pathway and never even realize it. There is a reason for the dark. Trust Him and let Him use it for your good, for the good of those around you and for His glory!