What to do when darkness comes
- Written by NANCY WILLIAMS
May brings warmer weather, more outdoor activities, that oh-so-important celebration known as Mother’s Day, and for many young people, graduation. As part of a high school senior recognition, our church invited young people to lead out in worship. Through the music and the spoken word, those students expressed their awareness of God’s guidance, his protection, his grace and his forgiveness. They drew their thoughts from the 139th Psalm in the Bible’s Old Testament – a passage that celebrates God’s knowledge of us and his constant presence in our lives. I listened to their comments with a quiet celebration that these young adults realize the value of drawing close to the Lord and trusting him with their lives as they look ahead to the future. The most important preparatory steps they can take for the opportunities and challenges awaiting them. Their comments were not only a reflection of their own journey, but also a reminder to those of us in the congregation to consider our own relationship with God. As the service drew to a close, a comment grabbed my attention. I’m paraphrasing here; but the challenge that resonated within me was this: “Take hold of the hand of the one who sees in the dark.” Right away, my mind swirled with thoughts about being in the dark. I don’t like those times. Not at all. My creative mind kicks into high gear and my imagination quickly stirs up fears of all kinds. I stumble around, reaching out for something to hold on to, something to help me get my bearings until some glimmer of light breaks through the blackness. ‘Same is true when I feel “in the dark” about a life circumstance, not sure where I am or what is happening. Longing to reach out for something to hold on to, something to help me get my bearings and maneuver around until I can see again. Like it or not, darkness comes into our lives. We can stumble around and possibly complicate things, freeze in fear, or have a plan to cope with the darkness and move toward the light. The comments made that Sunday morning cast a light on an encouraging spiritual truth: while we may find ourselves in times of darkness, God can see clearly in the dark. He is right there with us and knows just where we are and what lies ahead. We need to be still, acknowledge his presence and reach out to him. He’ll meet us where we are, offering his hand of protection and guidance. When we take hold, we’ll find the peace that comes in trusting him. One of my favorite Bibles, The Encouragement Bible, features inspirational stories from Christian writers like Joni Eareckson Tada, who suffered a crippling injury many years ago. She has devoted her life to sharing about her relationship with the Lord and encouraging others who face difficult life challenges. Listen to one of her stories about being in the dark. “One summer, my family and I traveled to see a gigantic wonder called Carlsbad Caverns. I clasped my mother’s hand as the tour guide led us down into the cavern. When we reached the bottom, our guide turned out the lamps so we could see, just for a moment, how thick the darkness really was. I gasped as oppressive and utter blackness enveloped me. Panic seized me and I thrust my hand into the darkness to reach for my mother. In an instant her hand was around mine, washing away my fear and anxiety. ‘Joni,’ she said, ‘you’re safe. I would never lose you.’ You probably have days that seem like cavernous holds. You can’t find your way and you search in vain for a single ray of light. Don’t be alarmed! Remember that your walk is not by sight, but by faith. And God, according to Isaiah 50:10, agrees with you: There are times when it’s hard to see even a single ray of brightness in your circumstances. But even in the blackness, God promises you will find him, close by. He says, ‘You’re safe. I would never lose you!’” When those times come, “take hold of the hand of the one who sees in the dark” and be encouraged. Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed counselor and life coach in Kingwood. Share your comments or request information at www.nancywilliams.net.