I can’t sleep without white noise. Whether it’s a fan, air purifier or an app on my phone, I need that gentle hum to lull me into oblivion. My husband travels several times a year for work, and when he’s gone I turn the noise up a notch. Every sound in the house except for that air purifier sends me into a panic.
I check the locks on the doors three or four times. I stand by the kids’ bedroom doors to make sure they’re asleep. I pace the house wondering, mind racing on overtime.
Was that a mouse in our attic? Was it a squirrel? Or was it an intruder looking for a way inside?
We live in a fairly safe neighborhood. But it only takes an hour of drama on Netflix or the latest news story to send me into high-anxiety mode.
There’s something about the darkness that makes us uncomfortable, isn’t there?
We fear what’s lurking in the shadows. We like the awareness the light brings. A sense of control, knowing what surrounds us and even what threatens us. But finding God’s light in the darkness can be difficult, especially when we turn the other way.
Recently, my family entered circumstances where the darkness was thick. I wasn’t just uncomfortable. I was on my knees in panic. I wasn’t interested in seeing what God was trying to reveal to me through the pain or whether there was a reason for it. I wanted it to go away. Period.
When I read the story of creation, I always find it interesting how God didn’t remove the darkness to create the light. Although he had the authority to do so, he didn’t expel it once and for all when he said, “Let there be light.”
No, he separated the two. It’s as though there was some plan, some purpose behind it. Then, fast-forward a couple of thousand years and we meet Jesus- the One who calls himself The Light. He tells us in John that those who follow Him will never walk in darkness. (John 8:12)
And yet, he doesn’t banish the darkness either.
As a matter of fact, there are situations where he allows it to enter the lives of those who walk with Him.
Don’t believe me? Look at the story of Lazarus. When Martha sends word that her brother is dying, Jesus is only one day’s walk away. But he waits. And he doesn’t wait because he’s disillusioned about the situation. No, he has a purpose to his delay.
This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.
Sometimes God allows the darkness so that his Light can be magnified.
It isn’t because he doesn’t care. He isn’t sitting on his throne, removed from our situation like he’s playing some video game. He weeps for us. (John 11:35)
He doesn’t just hurt when we hurt. As I read in a recent devotion, he hurts because we hurt.
Could Jesus have prevented Lazarus from dying altogether? Absolutely. Mary and Martha know this, and it is one of the first things they say to him when he arrives. They don’t yet see the reason for his delay. So what good comes out of his death? We see it as the story concludes.
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
John 11:45 NIV
Like those who were with Jesus when he arrived at Lazarus’ tomb, I eventually saw that the darkness my family was walking through had a purpose. But I had to stick around and face it. I had to expect God to show up.
And do you know what? He did. In ways I never could have imagined, he showed me he was working. Finding God’s light doesn’t always mean we get to escape the darkness we face. Sometimes it means seeing how it’s already there, right in the thick of it.
Friend, I don’t know what darkness you’re walking through today. You may be running that air purifier, trying to avoid its overwhelming presence in your life. But can I tell you something? God can use it. He can walk with you through it and magnify his Light in the middle of it. Sometimes we just have to turn off the noise and face it.
If you need to shift your focus from a struggle or worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about the ways a simple shift can change everything. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“I found my present circumstances written in Abby’s carefully penned chapters. I was inspired to reconsider what I believe about suffering and hardship as I lean into Jesus during difficult times. A source of biblical wisdom and thoughtful encouragement, Shift is a must-read for those who are facing disappointment or discouragement. And for those who just want a closer view is the heart of God for his children.” -Dawn W.
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.