Few people are spared passages through unexpected darkness. A prognosis of a terminal or disabling disease, the collapse of one's income source, the fracturing of relationships can quickly turn the lights out in a person's life. Often, the overwhelming darkness numbs the mind, deafens the ear and isolates its victim. Try these six suggestions to get the lights on again.
Keep cool. Your survival equipment works best in a calm environment. "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength" (Isaiah 30:15) has proven to be wise counsel. Blame, bitterness and belligerence only short-circuit the light even more.
Get your bearings! A trusted friend can help evaluate the darkness and monitor your response to it. A second opinion is always valuable. Determine carefully whether there is anything you can do to safely walk out of the darkness, or whether you really need a miracle to get the lights turned on in your life again.
Do what you know to do. When darkness falls, an impulse might be to "turn it over to the Lord." That's appropriate. But to do so either in despair or in avoidance of what one knows he can do to change things only hinders the light.
If you've lost your job, don't just sit there expecting God to rehire you. Get out your r & eacute;sum & eacute;; anything less is a cop-out of your responsibility. If the diagnosis is terminal, "call for the elders of the church." (James 5:14) If a relationship is shattered, "go and tell" your brother "between thee and him alone." (Matthew 18:15)
Doing our part
God will do what he needs to do. You must do what you know to do. Darkness often increases in direct ratio to one's avoidance of responsibility. Take the medicine. It's good for you!
Hold on tight! When darkness falls, it's what's on the inside that counts. Even if you can't see the landing lights, your inner "gyroscope" levels you off for a straight flight through pitch darkness to a safe landing.
Life requires not only faith that receives, but also faith that commits. (2 Timothy 1:12) The Apostle Paul's own commitment was based upon what he knew inwardly about our Lord. He knew him to be good; that he is love; that he is faithful; that he cares. When beaten, stoned, imprisoned or demeaned, Paul just held on tight. Whom he knew God to be gave him stability.
Commitment that holds on tight invites supernatural intervention.
Get in the best position. In business, there's talk about positioning. It's a matter of being in the best relationship to get the best advantage. When the lights go out, it's smart to be in the best position possible for God's supernatural intervention. If you aren't sure you are in a family relationship with God, make sure right now. People who know Christ can be confident it's going to be all right, no matter how dark it gets, because they are part of the family of God.
Rest in the Lord. The Apostle Paul put it this way, "And having done all, ... stand." (Ephesians 6:13) He had done all he knew to do. Now it was God's turn. It was up to the God whom he knew to be faithful. Paul would now "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." (Exodus 14:13) He knew God might not choose to work by his power to remove the darkness, but he knew God always works by his wisdom. That's an incomparable comfort in troubled times.
Remember that the lights will go on again though the timing and method might not be exactly what you prefer. Deliverance could be immediate (Matthew 8:3; Acts 3:7); progressive (Mark 16:18; Luke 17:14); or even deferred to the new body believers receive in the resurrection (1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 15:52, 53). Our Lord might even choose pharmaceuticals or exercises as his instruments of deliverance. Neither are adversarial to his miraculous help. (1 Timothy 4:5; 5:23)
It's not easy to keep in focus when the outlook is daunting. But we can't afford to ignore that time and means are merely instruments of God's sovereign grace and that darkness is only a prelude to the dawn. Dawn does come, eventually. It will for you, too, if you trust in God.
The Rev. Guy BonGiovanni, who holds a doctor of ministry degree from Logos Graduate School in Jacksonville, Fla., is president of Life Enrichment Ministries Inc., Canfield.