In some of the upcoming videos, I mention a dark time that I went through recently. Maybe I’ll talk about that a little more some other time; however, for today’s post, I wanted to talk about the potential of dark times, the value of those dark places, because it’s easy to look at the dark times negatively. I know I have.
I had a conversation with a songwriting friend a couple of months ago and I mentioned to her how I was coming out of a dark time and how the dark times made me think of a seed. It’s in the ground, buried in the darkness, for days, weeks, months…but not forever. =)
Tremendous, amazing transformation occurs while that seed is in the ground. If it wasn’t for being buried in a dark place, there would be no growth, no life. And that’s how I am coming to view dark times. In these dark places, God is able to grow us in ways that would be otherwise impossible. He’s been doing that in my heart and my life during the dark time I recently passed through.
I honestly didn’t know if I was going to spiritually survive my most recent dark place. It was incredibly intense, painful, confusing, and devastating, among other things. I was a very broken person and felt like my faith had been squeezed dry. God’s relentless and unfailing love kept me hoping when I didn’t even feel like I believed any more.
What should you do if you’re in a dark place that seems to be squeezing the life out of you?
- Find promises in scripture and hold on to them as if your very life depended on them … because it does! Find a new promise each day or take one for a week. Keep those promises close to your heart and don’t let them go!
- Don’t stop reading the Bible and spending time with the Lord. This is your water and fertilizer! God may feel a million miles away and you may not feel anything after your daily reading, but feelings are not accurate. You will only prolong your dark time by distancing yourself from the Lord, because without that water and fertilizer, it’s going to be difficult for you to grow properly.
- Remember that growth takes time. Be patient, be quiet. Don’t fight what God is doing. Surrender to His will, even to this place of darkness, and wait for Him to do His work in your life. Continue walking in obedience, believing and trusting that God is doing a good work in you!
- Eliminate distractions that keep you from focusing on the growth God is doing in your life. The process of growth isn’t pretty or comfortable, but you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by finding ways to get out of facing your true reality. Be all there and stay engaged, even if you just want to crawl back in bed and pretend like this isn’t happening. It’s really happening and God most likely has some specific instructions for you that are essential for your growth but are going to be hard to hear if you’re tuned out.
- Personally, I needed music. Find songs that are truth-filled, God-focused, and turn the volume up. Stop worshiping your trial and start worshiping God in the middle of the trial. The difference is extraordinary!!
- Keep an eternal focus and perspective. Yes, some of our earthly trials may very well last for the rest of our earthly lives, but that doesn’t mean forever. As difficult as it may be to say to yourself, remember that your affliction is momentary and light. Your flesh isn’t going to like that reminder and your mind is going to argue that point. No matter…it doesn’t change the truth of God’s word. Momentary and light…speak those words (out loud if needed) when the dark time feels like it’s been forever, when a complaint about the conditions forms in your mind, when your heart is breaking and you don’t think you can bear another minute…whenever, whatever…those words are powerful and effective. The more you say them, the easier they are to accept.
- If you’re struggling with anger and bitterness toward God, hash it out with Him. God is a good listener and He only speaks what is true. Don’t keep all the frustration inside. Tell God what’s going on and just be honest with Him. I’ve found that in my most broken moments, I talk to God more like how I would talk to a real person versus other times I pray. These conversations have been incredible and have been the most authentic…they are what I would like more of my conversations with God to be like. God can handle how you’re feeling, but He wants to hear it from you. And when you pour it all out, He has the most amazing way of setting you straight. Be prepared for the anger and bitterness to lose its hold on you, because God is so kind and tender…you just can’t stay mad at Him.
- Confide in a godly person/persons you are close to about all that you are feeling and struggling with so they can be praying for you and encourage you in the truth. It is truly beautiful to see the body of Christ at work. What a privilege to be on the receiving end of God’s care through His hands, feet, mouth, etc. I was incredibly blessed by members of His body who I hadn’t even talked to, but I was on their hearts and they sent me words of encouragement in addition to the people who knew my struggle and encouraged me along the way. Staying accountable to someone is important.
- Use this dark place to cultivate your relationship with God. He wants to take you deeper. He wants you to know Him more intimately. Rest in His love for you and cherish this time with the Lord. You won’t get this time back. Don’t waste this experience.
- Look beyond yourself. Pray for others and share in their burdens. It’s crazy how being more aware of others can cause your perspective to do a 180, but it’s true.
If I had more time to sit here and write, I’m sure I could add more to these action points. But I think you get the picture. A big part of getting through this is your attitude and your focus. Our women’s group at my wonderful church just started a Bible study with the book, “Calm My Anxious Heart”, and it has been very refreshing! I loved this quote the author shared that I just have to share with you too!
“Two women looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other saw stars.”
Looks for the stars, my friend! Look for the diamonds, the treasure, that are found only in the dark places. =)