Darkness is for Rest

There is a lot of talk about “dark times” in our Christian churches today.  You even hear it spoken of in our society.  “Everyone faces dark times, sometimes,” people say.  “Don’t worry; you can get through it.  You just have to fight your way through, and the light will come again.”

Sunrise at the Cloud Cap Campground, Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon

Sunrise at the Cloud Cap Campground, Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon

It’s related to the old childhood fear of the dark.  How many parents have installed nightlights and other lighted apparatuses for their children who couldn’t sleep because of their terror of lack of light?

Sunlight in the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness, New Mexico

Sunlight in the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness, New Mexico

And so most people walk around afraid of “dark times”.  Or they are going through “dark times” and find themselves hopeless and unsure and in need of something far beyond themselves.

Misty day on the Mazama Trail, Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon

Misty day on the Mazama Trail, Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon

Even Jesus said, “In this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows…” (John 16:33a)

 

Part of the problem is that we see darkness as something to be avoided at all cost.  It’s that old “I’m afraid of the dark” concept – we’re afraid of what the darkness might bring; what might happen while we can’t see what’s going on.  And I get it; no one enjoys trouble or heartache.

Kayaking on Honeoye Lake, New York

Kayaking on Honeoye Lake, New York

But when God created the world, He “separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day” and the darkness “night”.” (Genesis 1:4b-5a)  And since He later called it “good”, we can see that God didn’t think night and darkness were bad.

Sunset in the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness, New Mexico

Sunset in the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness, New Mexico

You see, darkness is a time for rest.  When it gets dark and the farmers can no longer work outside, they come in and rest from their labors.  The psalmist said, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest… for he gives to his beloved ones sleep.”

Sleeping in Big Bend National Park, Texas

Sleeping in Big Bend National Park, Texas

Night is the time for physical rest.  And often, dark times are also times for rest.  In the above passage from John, Jesus says that we will have trouble, “… but cheer up!  For I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33)

Climbing the Cinder Cone in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Climbing the Cinder Cone in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Conventional wisdom says that we must fight to get out of dark times.  And when the darkness is surrounding a battle, there is an element of confrontation.  Sometimes we have to take a stand or pray the enemy out.  But darkness is an invitation to rest in what God has done for us – to rest in God Himself.  It’s only through God that we will win the battle or survive the darkness.  So the closer we can be to Him, the more we can press in and rest – to “be still and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10) – the better we will survive, even thrive in, the darkness.

Moonrise in Big Bend National Park, Texas

Moonrise in Big Bend National Park, Texas

“Dark and night are not to frighten

Nor to make our lives more dreary

But the cares of life to lighten

Resting bodies weak and weary

 

Rest renews our zeal for living

As refreshed we greet each morning

Sunshine bright its warmth is giving

As its glow attends the dawning.”

~David Baigrie

 

“Both day and night belong to you; you made the starlight and the sun.” (Psalm 74:16)