Welcome to our themed Thursday, Simply Trusting. Shall we practice seeing in the dark?
I’m sniffling and sneezing when I finally check email. As soon as I start to read, the tears begin to flow and really, can my already stuffy nose swell any bigger?
“My mom passed away in her sleep two years ago,” the email reads. “There was no warning, no sickness, no nothing, just literally here one day and gone the next.” My heart hurts as I read but what I see next causes an old pain, deep and raw, to be triggered.
“I feel sucker punched.” She says it and I’ve felt it and yes, I’ve walked the maze of wandering. The maze of wondering what God’s intentions really are. I’ve known the words she scratches out: “I feel betrayed by God.”
My own story, the abandonment there on the other side of the world, in a dark, dirty corner in the middle of nowhere…the mornings I woke up and everything I thought I knew to be true suddenly wasn’t. When everything is snatched out from under you and where is the God you call Rock?
There was that day at church too, when a son came in and tapped the momma on the shoulder and they go to the back. While pastor is delivering the message a blood curdling scream comes from the rear of the building. Uncontrollable sobbing and shrieking and the services stop and we learn that a 14 year old daughter, Emily, was just killed in a car accident.
Years later I look into that momma’s eyes and still she says it, “I know what I should think. But it feels like God stabbed me in the back. He betrayed me.”
Sitting at the kitchen table with a stuffy nose and aching heart, I look outside the kitchen window. How do you live in a world where Creator God stabs in the back? The goldfinches are back, their bright yellow feathers fluff as they make lunch of the sunflowers we planted at the window. But I know how empty beauty is without trust.
Hollow eyes are blind to beauty, blind to the riches of the unseen. Trust is what gives sight.
I type back a response, fanning flickering flames of faith within my own heart, willing the sparks to light another. “Those struggling with betrayal and doubt have much in common with John the Baptist,” I tell her and really, is that a bad thing? John, the forerunner of Christ, the greatest born among women was living his last days on earth….in a prison cell. He had been arrested and imprisoned in Herod’s dungeon.
Away from the Master he had loved from inception, he felt a darkness that reached far beyond the damp, hard cell. This darkness invaded his very soul.
Feeling abandoned, betrayed, and isolated from everything he once believed to be true, the disillusioned follower sent a message to Jesus. “Are you really who you say you are?”
And how many times have I asked that as well… “You say You are good, but really? Are You really trustworthy? Are You really working in my best interests? How can this be right? Are You really in control? Because the entirety of the evidence speaks to the contrary.”
And Jesus sent back a message: “Blessed is he who does not fall away on account of Me.”
Jesus, who did not go to visit His forerunner in prison, gave him a word: “Hold onto your most precious faith! Consider the Word and consider the works and hold onto your faith!”
From Genesis 3 we see it is true, that darkness tries to produce doubt and if he can only succeed in planting that seed, doubt will turn around and magnify the darkness. Darkness and doubt work in connection to steal a person’s greatest asset: the eyes. Darkness does not want us seeing the unseen.
And we must understand what Jesus was telling John: the enemy of our souls is out for that most precious possession we have: our faith. In all the trials, heartaches, and traumas of life, he seeks to add true destruction to injury by robbing us of our faith. He desires us to fail by failing to believe.
This I know. I go back and reread the account of Jesus and John in Matthew 11. His words say it all, “Go tell John the things you hear and the things you see” and sometimes we can be the eyes of faith for another. Sometimes we can be the ears of hope. We can help them see when they cannot see and trust what they cannot hear. We can help others believe what they cannot imagine.
And while none of us holds all the answers, we can indeed have night vision. The vision to see the unseen in the midst of darkness.
How is your vision? Are you good at seeing in the dark? Today, how can you help another see God in their darkness?
~Developing your night vision~
1. Sit down and list all the attributes of God you can think of. Slip these attributes on as your night goggles.
2. Take your darkness and see it through God’s attributes. Ex: “Because God is both kind and wise, He arranged these (fill in the blank) circumstances in my life.” Ask Him to show you His goodness, nature, and kind purposes in this. (Psalm 27:13) Repeat this when fears, doubt, and distrust creep back in.
3. Choose to believe that God is who He says He is and ask God to help your unbelief. We get to choose what we believe (even if it isn’t really true!) so choose to believe God.
With practice, we get better at spotting the nature, the good purposes, and the blessed intentions of God, even in the dark. Be intentional about focusing on what is unseen rather than seen. Yes, it takes discipline, but the rewards are worth it and the sooner you start, the further ahead you’ll be.
Suggested resource (on my “to read” list): Lessons I Learned In the Dark ~by blind author Jennifer Rothschild