A few weeks ago, I was studying to find some words of encouragement for a couple in our church whose 11 year old daughter has been battling cancer. I recalled hearing a message at a camp meeting a few years ago in which the preacher spoke about a few good things about the dark. I began studying passages related to darkness and dark times. A few days into the study, another lady in our church called and talked to me about some tough times her son was having and I gave her a couple of the passages I found and they encouraged her. As I was studying, I was also trying to think about what I should speak to the Best Years Club. That’s when I came across Ecclesiastes 11:8 and knew the topic of dark times was a good topic – not only for the Best Years Club, but for everyone.
Remember the dark times
Ecclesiastes 11:8 But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.
What strikes me most about this verse is that a man can rejoice in all his years even though the days of darkness shall be many. And to top it all off, God tells us to remember those days of darkness! Why in the world would God want us to remember the dark times?
Remember – because he is in the darkness
Exodus 20:21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
That’s a wonderful picture for us – God is in the thick darkness. In fact, God makes darkness his secret place.
Psalm 18:11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
God has treasures for us in the darkness
When you were a kid – and maybe some of you still do this – remember when you had some great treasure – a baseball card, a toy, something your favorite relative or best friend gave you – you would find a secret place to hide it. It was a great treasure that brought you great happiness. God is like that too. In God’s secret place – in the darkness, he has some pretty good things. But his great treasures he likes to share with us.
Isaiah 45:3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
He talks to us in the darkness
One of those treasures and hidden riches is that God speaks to us.
Deuteronomy 5:23-24 And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders; 24 And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath showed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.
What he tells us, he wants us to share
Matthew 10:27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
What God tells us in darkness – what treasures he gives to us – when we come out of the dark times, he wants us to share with others. Why?
What we learn, others will need
Isaiah 58:10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
If we share what we learned in the darkness, our darkness turns into light – as bright as the noonday sun.
Glory in tribulations
Romans 5:3-5 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Going through tribulations – through dark times – teaches us to be patient – to wait on God. Patience produces experience – we experience things we would not experience if we had not waited on God. There’s an old saying: “slow down and smell the roses.” Many times we hurry things along and miss the good things God has for us if we would only be patient. Once we experience those good things, then we have hope – hope or assurance the next time we go through darkness that God will once again deliver us and give us treasures and hidden riches. And finally, hope leads us to not be ashamed because we know how great God is and how he can deliver us out of all our troubles. We no longer are ashamed to share our faith and God’s goodness and God’s love with the afflicted.
Darkest time in my life
I think the toughest time in my life was about ten years ago when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and it was discovered late so there wasn’t really anything the doctors could do to remove the cancer. It was tough watching my hero be turned into a broken man and quickly becoming unable to care for himself – all while knowing he was unsaved. It was tough for me because I knew that I would probably be the only source of light he would have during his last few months on earth. And yet – even though this was an extremely dark time for me, I look back on it with joy – it was dark, but it was sweet. It was during this time that God drew me close and fed me and taught me and strengthened me. It was during this time that I learned things I could never learn from the world or from others – whether those others were saved or lost. Because I knew that I was my dad’s only chance of hearing the gospel – even though I had shared it with him before he was diagnosed – I began to examine myself to see what I needed to purge from my life and what I needed to begin doing to draw closer to God so that my light would shine even more brightly. In so doing, God did not disappoint. He was faithful to his word and he allowed me the privilege of leading my dad to him just 16 hours before my dad took his last breath. My eyes still tear up when I look back on this dark time but even so I have joy within and a smile on my face.
Darkest time in history
Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
Thank God for that dark time – when the Lord Jesus Christ had taken our sins upon himself and suffered God’s wrath for sin – the just for the unjust. It was during this dark time that God gave us his greatest treasure – his only begotten son – so that through him we could receive the gift of eternal life.
Out of darkness – not into – the light shines
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
We who in times past walked in darkness without God in our life have received the light by trusting in Jesus Christ. We are to let our light shine out of that darkness so others may see the excellency of the saving power of God.
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.