dark days hope

The Truth about Darkness

10:00 AMHeather

Imprisoned as slaves. Like their fathers and father's fathers. Living in a foreign land for generations, under a brutal regime. Forced to work by ruthless masters, from dawn to dusk. Wanting. Lacking. Hopeless. 

As if the silent 430 years of being a nation enslaved was not enough, the great slaughter of all baby boys still cast a long shadow of unbearable grief upon these people. Such loss. Such heartache. The salt in the wound was this man Moses, who grew up a privileged prince and now claims to be their deliverer. 

Skepticism and fear collide with the faintest of hope. The plagues around them loudly testify of the God of their fathers. The retribution being poured out on the cruel Egyptians seems to indicate that perhaps their cries have been heard. 

But then, utter darkness.

Not just figuratively, but literally.

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt--the darkness that can be felt. So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days.
Exodus 10:21-23a (NIV)

Have you been there, or are you there now? Living through a darkness that can be felt. A scary medical diagnosis. Too many financial demands and not enough money. A marriage in crisis. A child flirting with dangerous temptations. A loneliness that makes you feel as though no can see you and you cannot see anyone else. A stuck place, where you feel you cannot leave, for far longer than three days.

If you have not known such darkness, be assured you likely will. And be confident that someone around you is in the dark, right in front of you, shaking and fearful with a breaking heart, and they feel unseen.

The dark and difficult seasons of life come hard for us. We become paralyzed, devoid of hope and unsure of any escape from the grip of devastation.

Yet, do you see the foreshadowing in the above passage? Do you see the time frame that absolutely must be noted as a truth to cling to when you are wandering in the darkness?

Three days.

Three days of darkness.

Three days of a darkness that can be felt, when no one can see anyone else or leave his place.

Three days.

In this season of Lent, pause and consider the truth of the darkness.

Glorious light bursts forth in the dark places.

An empty tomb is our endless source of hope. A borrowed grave where death had no lasting hold is the unfailing anchor for our faith.

Because through the struggles of pain, glorious new things are being birthed, there in the labor pains of darkness. The darkness is not our resting place. We do not dwell endlessly in the darkness, for it is not our final destination. No, the darkness is leading to something. The darkness is not the end, as surely as the tomb was not the end for the One who loved us to death.

The darkness is a means rather than the end. It is ushering in greater freedom and deliverance than we've ever known, granting us victory and plunder, as surely as we see in the examples of the Israelites exodus from Egypt and the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

For every one in a dark place today, preach this magnificent truth to your wounded soul. The darkness cannot last. In Jesus -- because of Jesus -- the darkness cannot win. It cannot rule or reign.

Here's the liberating truth about the darkness. In every Biblical account of darkness felt by God's people, the darkness is merely a passageway.

It's the hallway leading somewhere else. It's the waiting room. It's the birthing center, where pain is undoubtedly felt, but where pain has a purpose. The darkness is the sign ushering in and pointing to a new victory.

Because as the darkness like night came over the earth at the sixth hour until the ninth, it didn't last. When Jesus surrendered his spirit and was buried in the dark grave, utter darkness seemed to reign. All light was extinguished as the Light of the World was lifeless.

That is true darkness.

That is the only darkness to fear -- to make you quake as the earth did when Jesus died. 

A darkness without Jesus. A life with no Jesus. An eternity apart from him.

But because darkness couldn't hold him, we have no need to fear dark days. We have no need to shake or worry or feel defeated by darkness. By the dark diagnosis or prognosis or circumstances. For they do not reign. They do not last. They do not win.

Because darkness was vanquished once and for all after three days.

Because that darkness -- there in that tomb, there in that death -- because THAT darkness could not last. It couldn't hold the Light of the World in its grip. 

This is the truth to sing over our souls in every single dark day in order to summon hope.

The darkness of the crucifixion and the tomb came up empty.

That truth informs our every dark day. 

That truth shouts victory. It shouts joyous victory and it declares that darkness did not and cannot win.

Jesus shows us the darkness doesn't last. Jesus says that like the full moon breaking through the clouds at midnight, he will always break through the darkness.

The darkness of a flooded world gave way to a brilliant rainbow.

The darkness of a serpent's lie gave way to the One who crushed his head.

The darkness of a barren womb gave way to one named Laughter.

The darkness of Egyptian captivity gave way to the Promised Land.

The darkness of the plague of three days devoid of light gave way to freedom and release.

The darkness of three days inside the belly of a whale gave way to dry land where a wicked nation turned to God.

The darkness of three days in a tomb, all hope crushed, gave way to a glorious, eternal, never-ending victory through the One who is Faithful and True.

And he whispers into our darkness.

He enters into our darkness.

He shows up in our darkness.

And he says: I am the Light of the World. In me, there is no darkness. In me, no darkness has a lasting hold because it must let go. In me, because of me, darkness is merely a sign. It's a gateway. It's a passageway.

To the Glorious Light that will come again and make all things right that are wrong. For he is the hope that is continually doing new things.

In every darkness that you find yourself, remember the Israelites who were captive in Egypt. Remember what we know about them during that plague of three days of utter darkness.

"No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all of the Israelites had light in the places where they lived."
Exodus 10:23 

Yet all of God's people, in every darkness and every plague and every affliction and every struggle -- we all have Light in the places where we live.

His name is Jesus. Call out to him to shine into your weary soul.  

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