Walking Through the Darkness

Instead of giving my text up front, I'm going to let some of you supply a text from your personal experience..  In a moment or two I am going to give you an opportunity to share a promise. Not a chapter, not a whole Psalm or anything like that; but if you've gone through the valley…a time of difficulty…a time when things looked tougher than what you thought you could make it through and God gave you a promise. It was precious to you; sustained you and gave you the strength to carry on. I want to give you an opportunity to just share that.  You can look it up in your Bible if you can't quote it by memory.
     Let us look to the Lord in prayer and ask His blessing upon this service. "Our Heavenly Father, we pray that as we consider the theme of walking through the darkness, that Lord, You will help us to realize that even though there is darkness all around us, yet Our Savior has said, 'I am the Light of the World. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.' Help us to realize, oh God that as we walk close to Him we have all of the light we need for today. When we face a new tomorrow, we'll still have that Light, walking with us, lighting each step of our pilgrim journey. Help us to realize that all we have to do is stay close to Jesus and we'll have the light that we need as we walk through a dark world. We ask this in Jesus' name, and for His sake, Amen

     All right! Who has a verse that has sustained you and helped you in a time of perplexity. 
     Deuteronomy 33:27. "The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; NKJV (Several others gave verses not audible on the recording).
     Job 23:10, "He knows the way that I take, and when He hath tested me, I shall come forth as gold." These have been tremendous verses of encouragement and strength.
     Jeremiah 33:3 "Call unto Me and I will answer you, and show the great and mighty things you do not know." Amen. Vance Havner said, "I got promises answered on that verse for thirty years before I found out it wasn't for this dispensation."  It's amazing how many promises you get answers from until a theologian comes along.
     Psalms, 56:3 "What time I am afraid, I trust in the Lord.

Let me share a few thoughts with you.  Every now and then someone says, "Well, So-and-So is a Christian, and they are having a hard time, therefore they must be back-slidden and must be in sin. Is that so?  Let's consider some Bible characters.

     Noah lived in perhaps the most ungodly atmosphere, or society the world has known up to the present day. There is no doubt in my mind that he, with his wife and sons, were considered odd balls because they didn't fit in with the society in which they lived. I have no doubt that he was considered a lunatic for building that big huge ark out on a high place where there was no water to float the thing. He endured all of the cruel mockeries of the world for one hundred and twenty years. I am sure that he sort of wondered about the strange thing that God asked him to do and really wonder if God knows what He is doing. I have no doubt that Satan put those thoughts in his mind again and again.

   In obedience to God's command Abraham left his homeland, and his relatives and went to a country where he had never been, to look for a city he had never seen whose builder and maker was God. He was to expect a son that God would give to him and to his wife, Sarah.
     Twenty-four years later, at ninety-nine years of age, he still hadn't seen that city, even though he had gone the length and breadth of that land, and he was still looking for that son. Seemingly, there was no answer from God. All Abraham had as he walked through that 24 years of darkness was a promise from God.

     Hated by his brothers, they couldn't talk to him, without talking mean to him. They hated him so much that they plotted to kill him, but decided it was better to make money off of him.  So they sold him into slavery. Even though things seemed to go well for awhile, his master's wife tempted him and he would not go along with her into sin. She lied about him. And as an innocent man, he was put into prison. He did a favor for the Pharaoh's butler. He interpreted the butlers dreams and told him that within three days he would be restored to Pharaoh's house. He said, "please don't forget me, but remember me to Pharaoh." This was his one link to freedom, humanly speaking, to the outside world. Yet, that butler forgot him, and left him to rot in the prison. He walked through darkness clinging to hope that the butler would tell Pharaoh about him.

     Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God and he was rejected by the people of Israel. He had to flee from the land of Egypt and was a fugitive from justice. He lived in exile on the back side of the desert in the land of Midian for forty years. There is no way in the world in these few moments, that we could grasp the many times the thoughts of Moses wondered about what was going on with his family and the people of Israel. Mom and Dad were probably living when he left, but there was no indication that they were living when he got back. Sometime during that forty year period of time, Moses may have said to himself, "Well, Mom and Dad have probably died by now", but he did not know when. I have no doubt in my mind that he was lonely. I have no doubt in my mind that many times Moses was very cast down on the back side of the desert. Seemingly he had no future, whatsoever, when everything had started out looking so bright and wonderful. Forty years Moses walked through the darkness.

     Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, left Bethlehem, Judah, in a time of famine. They went to Moab, where they hoped to find greater fruitfulness and have the needs of the family met. The two sons each married Moabite, pagan woman. In the process of time, her husband died. Later, one son died, and the other son died. Now in poverty, she returns home in shame and humiliation with one of the gentile daughters-in-law. God had forbid the people of Israel to marry gentiles. They say to her, "Why, this is Naomi." She said, "Don't call me Naomi (meaning "pleasant") anymore, call me Mara" which means bitter. "I have come home in bitterness". From the time she left Bethlehem until she got back, she walked in darkness.

     Chosen by God to replace King Saul, Saul was filled with envy and hatred for David. He tried to kill him on several occasions. David had to flee for his life; live in the deserts and hide in the caves under constant jeopardy. If Saul found out where he was he would gather together his elite troops to pursue David and put him to death. David not only lived as a fugitive in the wilderness, but he lived in exile in the land of the Philistines. Through many years he wondered, "God anointed me to be the king? And yet, I am a fugitive and I am in exile." For many years David walked through darkness.

     He was a young Jewish boy, when the army of Babylon came and the city of Jerusalem fell. Those who were of royal blood and those of good background, good training, and good stock who seemed to indicate they had the ability to develop leadership were taken; placed into custody, and made eunuchs. That means that it was made surgically impossible for them to beget children and raise a family. Here was lonely Daniel in the land of Babylon, knowing that his city had fallen; and his people had fallen. Now he was virtually a prisoner, being shaped and trained and molded in all the training and all the learning of the Babylonian people for whose culture he had no taste whatsoever. The prospect surely looked very bleak for Daniel, but he walked through the darkness and he stayed true to God.

     If there is any book in the Bible that depresses me, it is the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was notable in that the people of Israel did just the opposite of everything he told them they ought to do. God said through him, "Don't make an alliance with Egypt against Babylon." They made an alliance with Egypt against Babylon. He said, "Don't rebel against Babylon." They rebelled against Babylon. He said, "Make peace with Babylon." They made war. He said, "Don't go to Egypt." They went to Egypt. Down in Egypt, he said, "Stop worshipping the queen of heaven, that's the reason you're down here." They said, "When we stopped worshipping her, that's when everything bad started to happen." I mean, to the day he died, everything he preached, they did just the opposite. Whatever it was. Don't you think Jeremiah had reason for saying on occasion, "I made up my mind that I wasn't going to speak any more in the name of the Lord." (Jeremiah chapter 20). Walking through the darkness makes us vulnerable to discouragement.

     He suffered the loss of sheep; cattle, camels, all of his possessions, servants slaughtered, ten children killed, and in an instant of time, lost his health. Even his own wife turned against him and so did his three friends. Suffering with boils from the top of his head to the sole of his feet, it seemed like the heavens were brass above his head. Job walked through some of the thickest darkness any human has ever walked through.

There are many people in the Old Testament we could talk about. We could talk about Rachel…who longed for a son, ---cried for a son. We could say the same for Hannah, who finally gave birth to Samuel. We could talk about all those Israelites down in Egypt. I don't know how long they cried out because of the rigor of their bondage, but it was at least eighty years, for the life of Moses and for a period of time before that. Would you like for America to be in cruel, rigorous bondage to another nation for 80 years or more? It would be a long time. Crying out, pleading with God and seemingly the heavens were brass and there was no answer. The entire nation walked through darkness.
 Phoenician woman
     She pled with Jesus' disciples to heal her son. They rebuked her.  She came to Jesus and He wouldn't even answer her. When she continued to plead with Him, He said, "It is not meat to take the children's bread and give it to dogs." She said, "That's right, Lord, I am a dog, but even the little puppy dogs in the house, get a crumb that falls off the table every now and then. Don't give me a loaf, but every now and then let me have a crumb that falls off the table." Jesus said, "Great is thy faith". But up until that point, it seemed that not only the disciples, but Jesus, Himself, had a deaf ear to her needs. That woman had faith that blasted her out of darkness into light.

Paul who bore the thorn in his flesh and cried out to God three times for it to be removed and God said "No, I'm not going to do it." And so Paul walked through life feeling the pain of the thorn.

John; banished to the Isle of Patmos. He was sentenced to spend his last days on this rocky, craggy island in the middle of the Aegean Sea with seemingly no opportunity of ministry  whatsoever. The closing days of his life must have appeared to be shrouded in darkness.

     I dare say that every one of us has gone through a difficult time. It may have been physical affliction. It may have been as children growing up in a dysfunctional family. My wife and I heard about some children who came out and cried in front of their mother, and said, "mother, all we ever wanted you to do was give us a father." There are wives, who have husbands who not only do not understand, but are antagonistic toward their living a Christian life. These wives seemingly have no prospects that these husbands will ever change their mind. Some face great financial stress.  They look at this tremendous financial stress and they look out over the future and everything looks dismal. Seems like its just nothing but darkness. No hope whatsoever.

Well, dear friends, let me give you very quickly what I believe are four steps to finding light as you walk through the darkness.

The First Step Is To Accept God's Pardon For All Sin.
I'd like for you to think about Isaiah 55:6,7. I start out here because usually when people are going "through the valley" they have either guilt feelings, or guilt.  We were at a 4th of July picnic at a friend's farm. In the middle of that picnic I received word that my nephew, a soldier stationed at Camp Dix, had taken a 45 and put it to his temple. His ten-year-old son was filled with guilt feelings, "Am I the one that caused my daddy to do that?" No. He wasn't. He wasn't guilty. But when that great trauma came into his life he immediately began to look inwardly.  No, he wasn't.  But sometimes we are guilty. 
     There is genuine guilt. We have sinned. My friends, whether it's guilt feelings, or it is genuine guilt, the word of God says to "seek the Lord while He may be found. Call ye upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return unto the Lord and He will have mercy upon him and to our God for He will abundantly pardon." The word of God teaches that even if we lived in the wicked way, if we have been guilty of unrighteous thoughts, if we are willing to turn from that and return to the Lord, the word of God says that God will have mercy on us and He'll abundantly pardon. He'll blot it all out; wash it all away. We need to accept God's pardon. Realize that God has pardoned us and rejoice, and live in that realization.

The Second Thing Is Acknowledge God's Providence.

     We cited a number of Bible characters. God had a purpose in the life of every one of these Bible characters we cited.  God had a purpose in Noah building that boat.  I believe when the flood came and everyone else was drowned Noah and his family realized God had a very good purpose in mind. 
     God had a good purpose in letting Abraham go those 25 years, walking up and down in the land of Canaan before finally giving him a son when he was 100 and his wife was 90. I believe God had a great purpose in teaching him faith and  also teaching you and me faith.
     God had a purpose in allowing Joseph to be taken down into Egypt. I believe a few years later, when every body else was starving, the people of Israel were fed, protected, and taken care of.   I believe the people saw that there was a purpose in Joseph spending all that time suffering.
     When Moses led the unbelieving stiff-necked rebellious people out of Egypt through the wilderness, to the promised land, that God had a purpose.  He taught him to be a shepherd for 40 years on the back side of the desert.
     God had a purpose in Naomi bringing that gentile girl home? Read the genealogy of Jesus and you will find that gentile girl's name, Ruth,  is one of three names of women listed there. One of them is Rahab. Another is Bathsheba. Rahab's name shows that God's grace and mercy reaches the worst of sinners; Bathsheba shows that God works His plan even when His children are weak and backslidden. Ruth's name shows that God's grace and mercy encompasses the gentiles.
     When David finally sat upon the throne of Israel, He could see (and we can see) there was a purpose in David all his sufferings.  All that he went through prepared him to become the greatest king that Israel ever had.
     We can also see how this was true of Daniel when he was made the chief counselor under Nebuchanezzar; and later, the first president in the kingdom of Persia.
     When we come to the 42nd chapter of the book of Job, in verse 6, we realize that God had a purpose for Job. The second step as we walk through what seems to be darkness is to acknowledge God providence. I believe God taught every one of these people something. I believe God taught people in their family and others around them in their day something, and I believe God left the record in the word of God to teach you and me something. God has a purpose. Acknowledge His providence.

We Ought To Assent To God's Prerogative.

    This means God has a right to do what He deems best. We are His by virtue of creation…by virtue of redemption, and it is God's prerogative to work His eternal plan. You say what if God makes a mistake? What if God has bad motives? What if God isn't fair? God gave me a wonderful verse today that answers those questions. . It is found in the book of Deuteronomy 32:4, Listen to this verse, "He is the Rock. His work is perfect; for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth without iniquity, just and right is he." Dear friends, when things go a little tough with us as individuals, or the whole work of God, we need to assent to God's prerogative…that God is just. He never makes a mistake, He'll never do wrong, He knows what He is doing; He's got a purpose for us; He's got a purpose for His work; He's got a purpose for eternity. It is His prerogative to do with us as He chooses to accomplish His eternal purpose. And we will find that just like it was quoted tonight, "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."

We Need To Appropriate God's Provision.

We have a lot of provision that we just don't appropriate.
1.  God has given us new life; His life, through regeneration.
2.  God indwells us with the Holy Spirit in a mysterious way that we really don't understand, and there's no way under heaven that we can ever explain it. According to John chapter 16, the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and God the Son are living within this carcass.
3.  God has given us His righteousness. When God looks at us He no longer sees us in our sin. He sees us in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.
4.  He has made us a citizen of heaven. By virtue of our first birth we hold citizenship in our national country. But by virtue of our second birth we hold citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. 
5.  God has made every Christian your brother and your sister in Christ Jesus.
He has given you the local church for instruction, for fellowship, for worship and for service.
6.  He promises you His presence. He will be with you.
7.  He promised you guidance. He promised to guide you .
8.  He has even promised to teach you all things, giving you His knowledge and His truth.
9.  He has promised that He will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. He has exhorted you to bring all your needs before His throne of grace. He has said, "Let us come boldly before the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." And God has said whatever your needs, whatever your problems are, I'm encouraging you to bring them up and lay them out before my throne of grace and with a yielded spirit, expressing to Me your deepest desires and willing for My will to be done, lay those things out before me and I'll hear and answer your prayers and hear your needs.     
     Oh my friends, God has given us great provision and I believe as we walk through the darkness if we'll appropriate this provision he's already said belongs to us…even when we may not be able to see more than just one step ahead. That's all we need to see for the moment. If we see enough to take the next step, let's take it. When we've taken that one, we'll see enough to take another one. I believe if we go to bed tonight in the will of God we'll wake up in the morning in the will of God. I believe that if we never get more light than just enough to see to take the next step; and if we keep taking those steps, then when we get to the end of life's journey down here, we'll be right in the will of God. We'll have all the light of life we need from God. If you believe, that, say amen. I believe it. Walking through the darkness of this world. We can do it because we have the Light of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ. Cling to His promise, ."…I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from the NKJV unless otherwise noted