In my previous posts, “The Struggle” and “The Sorrow,” I began detailing my journey through the valley, and my eventual discovery of a “benefit” to the darkness that began to surround me. Here is what I found…
When I was in the middle of my struggle, drowning in my sorrow, I never thought that anything good was going to come from it. But even in the midst of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, I found it! The Benefit of Darkness. However, it took me a little bit longer to realize just what I had found. It didn’t “click” for me until a few weeks later, after I made the decision to make the 1000 mile journey back to my hometown, to visit family and friends, while regrouping and replenishing my depleted resources after this intense season of attack.
During this time, I had a conversation with one of my family members, where he asked me this question. “In all of your study of the Bible, have you been able to find any benefits of darkness?” I thought for a second, because this was a rather unusual question, particularly from this member of my family. I looked at him and began to describe to him some of the events that had unfolded over the previous months, and as I was speaking, I began to realize something. The Benefit of Darkness is that only within it do we begin to truly unlock, discover, understand, and apply what God has shown us in the light.
When we have seasons of living on the mountaintops, they tend to be accompanied by more revelation. Sometimes, this revelation comes from The Word, sometimes it comes from those around you, or from God directly. Also, it is really easy to develop a mentality of indestructibility, almost as if our faith is bulletproof. This notion is quickly dispatched after the sifting and shaking comes. Without testing, where is the evidence that our faith is even real?
Darkness is defined as “the partial or total absence of light.” Light is defined as “the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.” Without times of darkness, as unwelcome and uncomfortable as they are, we would never grow, or apply the things that we learned when we were basking in the sun. Our vision would be diminished, and we would miss the wonderful things that God has in store for us.
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to learn this lesson. I know many people who continue through destructive cycles, because they keep going around the mountain instead of strapping in and climbing over their own fears, insecurities, and doubts in order to reach the purposes and plans that God has for their lives.
Now, I do not profess to have it all together, or that because I have been through this difficult season that now everything will be rainbows and roses. I know many people who have been through much worse things than I could even imagine, but I can only speak to my struggles. The reality of the tangible Presence of God throughout this season of difficulty was one of the primary factors that determined either my success, or my failure. By sharing this journey with you, I pray that you have been encouraged to keep holding on to the promises of God, even when nothing seems to make sense and the heavens feel like brass, casting your prayers back to earth seemingly unanswered.
In my life, these “Divine Detours” have produced much good, even when I barely remembered what “good” looked like. Because as believers, we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, the ones who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 paraphrased).
God is not the cause of our struggles! They are the result of a merciless enemy who wants nothing more than to steal, kill and destroy anything that presents itself as a threat (see John 10:10), and as a Child of The Most High God, that is exactly what you are! Remember that even when it doesn’t make sense, God is still in control. He knows what He’s doing!
I want to encourage you, regardless of what you are going through, look for The Benefits of Darkness in your own life. You might be truly surprised by what you find. This has proven to be especially true in my life. I am still on the upward climb, out of the valley, looking toward the next mountain.
The timing of this article series was purposeful. I did not want this to be another account written by someone who was completely out of the woods, with a beautiful wife, 2.5 kids, a dog, and a nice house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, and absolutely no problems. I have no issue with most of those things, (except for the impossibility of having half of a child) yet the fact remains that my life looks nothing like that. My definition of success is not predicated upon material possessions, the accolades of man, or based upon the opinions of people. (If you did not get that yet, please refer to the “Authors Note” located at the beginning of this series…) My definition of success comes from accomplishing the God-given destiny that I was made to fulfill.
I am currently single; searching for a job and apartment, and my hand is still recovering from my injury. Through targeted physical therapy and much prayer, I have seen remarkable improvement, with still more to come. Right now, I have a lot more questions than answers; and that’s okay.
One of my close friends counseled me to write about my experiences and trials while I was in the midst of them, because many people choose to write about the mountaintops and the awesome, amazing experiences with God. Few choose to write about the cost that is associated with the Christian life. Jesus told us that we would do greater things than even He did while He walked the earth. He also said that we would encounter greater opposition than He faced. Perhaps trials and tribulations just aren’t marketable enough or something, but I have found that transparency always precedes transformation.
So here is my story, unfiltered, unabridged and uncut, with the hope and prayer that this series isn’t just something that you scroll past in your news feed, but that through it you would discover that The Struggle and The Sorrow are nothing compared to The Solution that is found in Jesus Christ. He is the source of strength to the weary, life to the dying, and hope to the broken.
If you have any questions, prayer requests, or you want to learn more about this Man called Jesus, feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will endeavor to connect you with the answers you seek.