Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Name of Darkness

. . . . . and the darkness He called Night.
Genesis 1:5

Darkness. The very word brings feelings of isolation. As the night closes in our vision is more limited and we become frightened by what might be out there beyond our ability to see and understand. We’re more vulnerable when it’s physically dark and if our darkness is emotional or circumstantial the problem is multiplied a thousand fold.

When darkness comes, we desperately need comfort and reassurance, and one way to find those two is by reminding ourselves of God’s relationship to the night. Darkness never takes Him by surprise. It’s not leftover fragments of a universe which He has hasn’t fully conquered. Darkness of every kind is as much under His control as sunshine and blue birds.

One way we know God is in control of dark times is through biblical examples. Many of His most important actions took place when human eyesight was the most limited. The Ten Commandments were given in the dark. [1] God called the young boy, Samuel, in the middle of the night [2] and Nehemiah discovered how to have victory over an impossible task as he rode around the walls of Jerusalem in the dark. [3] The covenant God made with Abraham [4] and Jacob’s first assurance of His personal care both took place in the night. [5] Even the most important events of the life of Christ were shrouded in shadow. Jesus was born, crucified and resurrected in the dark. [6]

Another way we see God’s control is by remembering how He handled physical light at the time of creation. When the universe began all was chaos, emptiness and darkness. Then, God broke into the situation bringing order and light, but when His work was finished He had not chosen to chase the darkness completely away. Instead, He bound up the darkness, confined it to discrete limits of time and gave it a name: Night. Later, He created two physical lights. The large, bright light was to rule the Day and the lesser, gentler light was to rule the Night. Neither the Day nor the Night was left to rule on their own. Both were planned; both were ruled and both were named by God.

This bring comfort when we feel we are drifting in an endless sea of darkness because, like the rest of creation, night has a beginning and will have an end. Even more importantly, our darkness has a journey mate; A friend walks beside us every step of the way.

Jesus knows all about darkness. He was there when it was bound and confined to discrete spans of time. He guided as dark times drew acts of heroism and faith from those who believe in Him. And, as He walked among us, He learned firsthand what it’s like to experience the shadows. It's because He knows the Night so well that we can trust Him while the darkness passes by.

[1] Exodus 20:21
[2] I Samuel 3:2-10
[3] Genesis 15:12
[4] Nehemiah 2:12
[5] Genesis 28:11
[6] Luke 2:6-8; Luke 23:44-45

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