Emmanuel (Noel) Villarivera
Many of us want to solve our own problems. We are good fixers, and we want to get rid of a problem and then move on. So, we look for projects. We look for things that provide a sense of accomplishment – a sense of having done something concrete. The notion that you cannot fix your friend who is suffering is difficult to deal with.
However, many situations in life simply cannot be fixed until we reach heaven. In our rush to fix the problem or fix our friend, we often ignore each other’s pain. We want to give easy answers and take simple steps. We need to be willing to be there for someone in their suffering.
God willing, there will be people who will allow themselves to be changed by what has changed you as you go through darkness. They will come alongside you and let what has transformed you transform them. Letting other’s grief touch us is one way that we can serve each other as the body of Christ.
God gives us treasures in the darkness. It may not be grief over the loss of a loved one. Instead, it could be the loss of a job, a friendship, your health, your finances, or a multitude of other things. But in that darkness, God gives us treasures.
God has the power to intervene in our darkness.
God has the power to intervene in our darkness. In Isaiah 45:5 He says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me, there is no God.” Isaiah 57:15 says, “The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: ‘I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.’” He is transcendent, meaning that He is high and exalted, above time and space.
There is no one else like God. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. The universe is in His presence. He is the only one who dwells like that in eternity. He is all-powerful and He can intervene in our darkness in ways that only a transcendent God can do. He is the only being who can accurately say that He is transcendent and that no one can compare to Him.
Perhaps you can remember times when you were in trouble and thought there was no rescue coming – nothing that would bail you out, nothing that would save this relationship, or this person from death, nothing that would make any difference. Then God acts, doing something in your life to change what you thought was hopeless into a reason to praise Him.
But what do we do when God doesn’t intervene? What do we do when our prayer is not answered, such as when our loved one still got sick or still passed away? Or when that job did not call you back, or your friend kept walking away?
Whether He intervenes miraculously or not, God will be close to us in our darkness. This verse says, “…who summons you by name.” He says, “I’m giving you these treasures of darkness, riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that I’m the Lord, [the majestic, the transcendent] God of Israel…” And then He moves it from the gigantic down into the most personal “[the God] who calls you by name.”
There is something about the thought that this God – who created the world, who puts breath in our lungs, who flung the stars into space and keeps them all up there by the power of His Word – that God knows my name. This God gives us treasures in the darkness and has secret riches hidden in the times of suffering.
This God is also personal, and we know that he has hidden riches in the dark times. He’s big enough and powerful enough to be a part of our lives in miraculous ways. He is personal, He is intimate, He knows us by name, and this only leads us one place – worship.
Worship is a treasure in the darkness. If you are going through a dark time, if you are going through a time of suffering, if you are feeling that God has hidden Himself in a trench coat of darkness or He’s put some things in your way that you can’t get past and unless you get some light in your darkness you feel like you’re going to die. Worship is a treasure in the darkness.
The prophet Habakkuk expressed his worship to God in the darkness this way in Habakkuk 3:17-19. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior. The sovereign Lord is my strength, and he makes my feet like the feet of a deer.”
What does a deer do? It climbs surefooted to the heights and so God, my Sovereign Lord that I trust is making our feet like that of a deer, so that we climb to the heights.
We must choose to find the treasures in darkness. Some, as they read this are experiencing deep and strong pain is deep. The idea that there could be treasures, that there could be anything redemptive hidden in the places of brokenness and sorrow and suffering is difficult to accept, and they are not open to it.
Who do you think will find the treasures that God has hidden and concealed in the mess of your life, those who are closed to finding and looking for them? Will it only be the great people, the wealthy people, the smart, talented, or gifted? Will it be those who have been given all the advantages in life?
No, it will be the men, the women, the students, the elderly and the young. It will be those who have said, “God I believe that you have concealed treasure in this darkness, that there are secret riches hidden in this suffering. And because I believe it, I will be open to that possibility. I will accept them when they come. I will search for them. I will receive them. I will embrace the treasures of darkness.”
We must choose to see God as He reveals himself – as transcendent. Whether He intervenes or not, we can know that He is close. He is as close as the next breath in your lungs.
“Watching the Mist”, Courtesy of Eberhard Grossgasteiger, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Dark Forest Road”, Courtesy of Peter Oswald, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Arbor and Fountain”, Courtesy of Kate Darmody, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Devotions”, Courtesy of Ben White, Unsplash.com, CC0 License