Most of us have heard the phrase, “it is always darkest before the dawn” and we realize the inference is how it seems just when things couldn’t get any worse, a ray of hope shines through and life begins to brighten again. Maybe you are in a season of dark times, can you take some reassurance from such colloquial wisdom? In the dark times, it may feel like little more than a homespun platitude designed to give an otherwise speechless would-be comforter something to say which sounds like wisdom. Still, it may ring hollow. But is it?
God is the creator of nature and the Bible tells us His design of creation helps us to understand who He is.
In the night, is it true that the darkest hour of the night is just before dawn? As a police officer, I worked night shifts for most of thirteen years before moving to administration. It seemed likely the darkest hour was right around 5 a.m., just before the city was starting to come alive again and traffic picking up as folks were headed to dayshift jobs.
One author of an internet post claims that midnight is the darkest time of night because it is the time when the sun is completely opposite a specific location. If it’s on the internet it must be true! The problem with his theory was he forgot the Genesis 1:14-18 which reads,
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,[f] and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness.
Our internet expert forgot about the lights of the night. How dark the night is depends, in part, to the how much light the moon is reflecting from the sun on a given night, at a specific time. The middle of the lunar month, when there is the least moon visible would add to the depth of the darkness. For some it is a time to celebrate. Yes, there are those in the ‘Goth’ world who celebrate the darkness; but I am referring to the Jewish minor holiday Rosh Chodesh which occurs at the first of every month on the Jewish calendar. It coincides with the first of the lunar month, that time when the moon is least visible. It’s informally called the Woman’s Holiday because it is on that day many Jewish women refuse to do any work around the house! It seems only fair they have such a day. The other 29 or 30 days each month the men usually don’t do any work around the house!
What does that have to do with your times when you are struggling in the darkness and you need more than platitudes or some lunar lesson? Notice in the Genesis verses, God was specific in what He did and through His creation He provides ways for us to remember His promises. Certainly, you’ll recall how God set a rainbow in the sky for Noah as a reminder of God’s promise to never destroy the earth again by flood waters.
Many years ago, I was drilling through metal, without eye protection, and a tiny shard of steel imbedded in my eye close to the pupil. After the surgery to remove the shard, I had to wear eye coverings over both eyes and stay in a darkened room for a few days. There was a concern my vision might not return when the bandages came off. Through those ‘dark days’ I had more time to pray than I would have normally.
Dark times provide time (and incentive) for us to pray.
I could not read God’s word on my own, but I could reflect on verses I knew or Bible stories I had learned through the years. One of the stories was how when three of God’s followers were thrown into a furnace so hot, the furnace consumed the furnace tender when he opened the door to toss the three in. While the furnace was burning at its hottest, through a window in the door, the curious could look in and see what as happening to the three who were inside. What the witnesses saw astounded them. Not only were the three not dead, they were up walking around singing and there was a fourth person with them. That fourth person, the Bible tells us was the pre-incarnate Christ!
When the flames are all around us and all is lost; God is faithful to be with us.
God didn’t keep the three from having to go into the furnace, but He was with them and He kept them safe through their time there.
“Just a Bible story!” you say. It is recorded in the Bible and as part of world history as found in the records of the King Nebuchadnezzar, who was likely, before this event, a non-believer![i] When I sat in the dark, wondering if I would ever see light again, it was a blessing to know the same Christ who walked in that fire with those three Jewish men. When the bandages were removed and I could see, I still had the same Christ to walk with me whatever lay ahead.
During the crazy events of this year, we have been given just the slightest glimpse of what the end times may be like when Satan has full reign for seven years prior to the Christ’s triumphant return and I am certain that to the 100th power, it will be far worse than we can imagine. But even as times get increasingly dark prior to the rapture of born-again believers, Christ will be there, beside us in those darkest of days. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” Just when it is the darkest, we will see a great light.
Isaiah prophesied of Jesus’ birth by writing, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”[iv]
Matthew, a disciple of Jesus wrote concerning His birth, “the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”[v]
Have you ever been in a dark room, almost pitch black? The tiniest of light in such a room will be easily seen. On a pitch-black night, a single match light can be seen for over a mile. The term ‘3 on a match’ came from the military belief that in the dark, a single match light, if lighting three cigarettes, could kill the third person. The first lets the sniper notice you, the second allows him to take aim, the third he fires a shot! Light can penetrate the darkness in ways we may never know.
How much light do you need in your darkness? How about a friend you know is going through a dark time? Can you provide that light, that small ray of hope? All one can provide, at times is hope – hope in the form of light. Maybe you need to meet the One who is light of the world, or perhaps you can introduce another to the light.
May the Light of the World bring you a ray of hope today.
[i] According to the Biblegateway.com “Outside the Bible we have many contemporary records from Babylon, as well as later writings extolling Nebuchadnezzar’s accomplishments: hundreds of contracts, several inscriptions, detail from classical historians and the Babylonian Chronicle, which documents Nebuchadnezzar’s accomplishments from his first through his eleventh year. However, there are still large gaps in our knowledge about his reign.
[ii] Hebrews 13:5
[iii] Matthew 28:20
[iv] Isaiah 9:2
[v] Matthew 4:16