Treasures From The Dark
“I will give you the treasures of darkness [the hoarded treasures] And the hidden riches of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you (Cyrus the Great) by your name.
The thought of finding a treasure has thrilled people from the beginning of time. Ancient cultures told myths about it, and today, millions watch as lottery numbers are posted each day. Some treasures require years of search and sacrifice. Mel Fisher searched for the Atocha, a Spanish galleon, for seventeen years before he found the treasure worth about four hundred million dollars off the Florida Keys. And some people are instant millionaires from buying a one-dollar sweepstakes ticket.
In the book of Isaiah, God describes a completely different kind of treasure, but one that is worth more than all the gold, silver, and jewels in the world. In the most difficult and most excruciating moments of our lives, God wants us to find a treasure. When times are good, we roll along with only a superficial pursuit of God, but in our pain, we cry out to Him from the deep recesses of our souls. We desperately need to know Him, His heart, and His purpose for us right then. In that cry for help, God reveals Himself to us so that we grasp more of His character. We may not know why something happened, but that matters less if we know we can trust the One who holds call things in His hands.
In our darkest moments, we develop intimacy with God. We’re convinced that He is almighty and beyond comprehension, but more than ever, we’re convinced we can trust Him completely. That’s true treasure.
We never manufacture times of darkness so that we can find this treasure, but when those times occur, we can have confidence that God will meet us there.
Watch where God puts you in the darkness, and when you’re there, keep your mouth shut….When you’re in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light.
Adversity is God’s way of preparing me to help other people.
It seems that we listen more to God in dark times than at any other. Perhaps it’s because we’re too busy to listen but when life goes sideways and we’ve exhausted all our other resources and we turn to God for help, we’re all too glad to listen. After all, what else is there to do? Quite often we read in the Bible that God used dark times to speak important things to His people.
God had great plans for Jacob but to prepare Jacob for those plans He had to get his attention. Jacob didn’t begin well. As we read his story we find that his character needed a makeover. One day he found his brother Esau in a weakened state. Esau had hunted unsuccessfully all day with nothing to show for his effort. Coming home hungry, Esau began to smell the food Jacob was cooking. When he asked for some food Jacob agreed to feed him only if he gave up his birthright. What a character! Upon hearing Isaac was preparing to transfer the birthright, Jacob and his mother plotted and carried out a deception on his father. Fearing a reprisal from Esau, Jacob fled to his uncle Laban. There he engaged in trickery to increase his herds while causing his uncles to decrease. He fell in love with Rachel but ended up marrying her sister Leah due to his uncle’s trickery. He worked another seven years to marry Rachel. Finally, he decided to go home and on the way, he heard that Esau was coming to meet him. Fearing for his life, he sent the party on ahead and he stayed alone. God had brought him to the place of reckoning. Here’s the Bible account of that meeting:
“So Jacob was left alone, and a Man [came and] wrestled with him until daybreak. When the Man saw that He had not prevailed against Jacob, He touched his hip joint; and Jacob’s hip was dislocated as he wrestled with Him. Then He said, “Let Me go, for day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing on me.” So He asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked Him, “Please tell me Your name.” But He said, “Why is it that you ask My name?” And He declared a blessing [of the covenant promises] on Jacob there. So Jacob named the place Peniel (the face of God), saying, “For I have seen God face to face, yet my life has not been snatched away.” Now the sun rose on him as he passed Penuel (Peniel), and he was limping because of his hip.”
Sometimes God brings us into the dark places and hems us in because He wants to transform our character. So if God has brought you into a dark place, please know that He hasn’t brought you there for any other reason than to make you more aware of His love and to reveal His purposes for you.
The second story is the story of Elijah. Elijah is an interesting character. God worked through him in incredible ways. I know of few who could claim to have such a connection with God that they could control the weather. Both the book of Kings and James record that Elijah prayed and it didn’t rain for three years and he prayed again and it began to rain. One of the stories of Elijah tells of the contest on the mountain top where God answered his prayer by sending fire down from heaven to burn up the sacrifice. What a story! But Elijah went down from the mountain and entered a dark place. We find him hiding in a cave in fear and deep in depression. It seems that Jezebel the queen, angered that Baal had been shamed, issued a decree for his life. There was even a point that Elijah prayed to die and felt that he was the only true follower of God. In that dark place, God came to Elijah, lifted him out of despair and set him on a mission again.
The third story is the story of John the Baptist. John was instrumental in introducing Jesus as the Son of God to the people on the riverbank. What powerful words he utters, “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world.” Yet not long after we find him sitting in dejection in a prison cell waiting for his sentence to be carried out. Herod is trying to silence his voice. In that dark place, John begins to question his life and his ministry. What heartbreaking words he sends to Jesus, “Are You the One or do we look for another?” And in that dark moment, God speaks words of hope and encouragement. Jesus sends back to John these words:
Now when John [the Baptist] in prison heard about the activities of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and asked Him, “Are You the Expected One (the Messiah), or should we look for someone else [who will be the promised One]?” Jesus answered, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive [their] sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed [by healing] and the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed [joyful, favored by God] is he who does not take offense at Me [accepting Me as the Messiah and trusting confidently in My message of salvation].”
What these three stories tell us is that God always visits us in the dark places. Listen, He has something to say to you. He will speak in spite of the pain or doubt or fear. Dark places are no fun but they can become growing places if we will turn our heart toward God and listen for what He has to say to us. I know for I’ve heard His voice in the dark.
Dr. John Thompson