Life is full of good things. From the beauty of a golden sunset to the joy of a child’s sweet embrace, life offers a plethora of wonderful experiences and people. No day passes without a blessing of some kind because God is just that good.
But sometimes the good seems far away. There are days when the darkness rolls in, and I find myself plagued by sadness and despair. I am no stranger to these shadowy visitations. I would like to think I’ve grown more adept at handling them as I’ve grown older, but I cannot say they have left me entirely, and I find myself wondering why they trouble me so.
The Bible indicates there are many reasons why we face dark times and dry places. The prophet Elijah sat despondent in a cave because he was afraid. (I Kings 19) Jonah spent three days in the belly of a fish because he was disobedient. (Jonah 1) Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness because God’s Spirit led him there. (Matthew 4:1-11) In each instance, there was a lesson to be learned, an opportunity to grow.
There is comfort in knowing I am not the only one to travel through the shadow lands. I am not the first to cry out like the Psalmist, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?” (Psalm 42:5) I am not alone when I experience occasions when “my soul thirsts for God” and “my tears [are] my food day and night” (Psalm 42:2,3), but I find myself struggling to find hope just the same.
Psalm 42 offers sustenance for the parched soul and light for the darkened path. In verse 8, the Psalmist reminds us that “by day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me.” God’s work in us never ends. Even in our most dire straits, his Spirit “prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words” (Romans 8:26 CEV), and therein lies our hope.
God is with us in the darkness, using that time to strengthen us, teach us, and transform us. So do not fear the dark. Rest in God’s promises, trust in his work, and anticipate the day when the sun will shine again.
*You can read Psalm 42 in its entirety here.