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.
"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
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
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.
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
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.
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 First Step Is To Accept God's Pardon For All
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
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.
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
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
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."