Episode 1. What We Do in the Dark
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Sometimes we travel through dark patches in life – and in those difficult times, it’s tempting to let that darkness smear how we think, what we say and what we do. And yet how we behave on those …
Sometimes we travel through dark patches in life – and in those difficult times, it’s tempting to let that darkness smear how we think, what we say and what we do. And yet how we behave on those dark days – is so very important.
It’s great to be with you again this week. I’m not sure if you were able to join me last week but we began a new series called, “Dark Night, Bright Light” and it’s one that we’re continuing on again this week on the program. We all travel through dark times in life, times of loss or loneliness or sickness or sadness or depression, the list goes on. Now I’m not suggesting that we’re all a bunch of losers, I don’t mean that, it’s just one of the realities of life that dark times are something that we all have to travel through.
Jacqui, my wife, was talking to a long time friend of hers, her children are growing up and there’s lots of challenges and problems and she’s exhausted. A dear friend of mine whose son committed suicide, he and his wife are still reeling from that and another friend who’s been retrenched, well he’s in his fifties and it’s hard for him to find a job.
This stuff happens; dark times are difficult because it’s dark and so often we can’t see where we are or where we’re going. I’ve had them, you’ve had them, that’s life and that’s why we’re talking about these dark times again this week on the program.
And it’s not just about the darkness but also the bright light that shines in those dark places. Jesus said these amazing words:
I am the light of the world.
And one of the things we saw last week is that He is in the ‘light’ business and that’s good news for anyone going through a dark patch. The very first thing that God created, Genesis chapter 1, was light, a trillion, trillion stars at least. That tells us something about Him; God is definitely in the “light” business, hallelujah don’t you think?
Last week we spent some time with King David in Psalm 34 and we’re going there again today. This man David had more than his fair share of dark, difficult and lonely and scary times. That’s why what he has to say is so useful; his wisdom comes from what he learned about God. So this psalm is kind of a retrospective with a benefit of hindsight, he’s looking back on the dark times, on his fear and when God showed up. Let’s read the first part of that psalm again right now; this is what he says:
I will bless the Lord all the time; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let all those who are afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let’s exalt His name together. I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame.
This poor man called and the Lord heard him; He saved him from all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
See, David’s saying God is a god who shows up in the dark times and delivers us. Now David isn’t telling us that off the top of his head, it’s from his experience. He spent such a long time, so many years on the run from Saul who was trying to kill him. In dark caves, in lonely places. David had fought so many battles where he was hard pressed and he should have been killed but God was there for him and one of the things that we touched on last week was fear; bad fear and good fear.
Bad fear is the fear that David talks about in verse 4 of this psalm:
I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.
But he also goes on to talk about good fear in verse 7:
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and He delivers them.
Fear of the Lord is something we’re going to have a look at some more today because it’s what this next part of Psalm 34 is all about. I want you to come with me now as we read just the next 5 verses of this psalm, verses 9 to 14 which is where we’re going to spend a bit of time together today. He writes:
Fear the Lord, you His holy ones for those who will fear Him will have no want. The lions may grow weak and hungry but those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing. Come my children, listen to me; I’ll teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days; keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
This is a really important part of the psalm. The first part told us all about God and what He’s like, it’s fantastic, we looked at that last week. This second part though; it’s about the part that we have to play during those dark times.
I want to tell you something about darkness; people will do things in the dark that they won’t do in the light. Think about it, we’re much more careful about where we walk and what we do out there in the dark, in the night time, than we are in the day time. Robberies, muggings, murder; they’re all more likely to occur under the cover of darkness. And the same is true in our lives. Dark times, well they’re the times we’re far more likely to do things that we know are wrong.
Let me just give you a few practical examples. A husband and wife, they’re going through some tough times in their marriage and their eyes start to wander, they start looking around. That’s how adultery begins, instead of holding on to each other, holding close and working through the issues.
Or perhaps there’s conflict at work; someone’s just not treating us well and we’re feeling under pressure, it’s really getting to us, you know. The boss is just being horrible so we take that as an excuse to justify being lazy or stealing something or gossiping behind their back or not servicing a customer properly so that the company will lose some money.
Or perhaps money’s really tight, we’re under real financial pressure and we’re tempted to lie and cheat on our tax return or when that shop attendant gives us too much change and makes a mistake; ah we just slip it into our pockets. Do you see how easy this stuff is?
In the dark times, in those hidden places the temptation to do wrong is far greater than when times are good. No-one notices it, after all times are tough, I have to look after number one, I have to look after me. I have to justify myself or protect myself or provide for myself and that’s how we rationalise this stuff. Do you notice the central theme running through all that? Me, myself and I.
Darkness is a time when we’re afraid and in those times we can end up being tempted to turn away from what we know is right because no-one will notice and besides we just have to. The devil loves it, he’s so delighted by this. Have a listen to what the apostle John says:
This is the message we’ve heard from Him and declare to you. God is light; in Him there’s no darkness at all. If we claim to be walking with Him and yet we walk in the darkness, we lie and don’t live in the truth.
And so over this week we’re going to look at the wisdom that comes from David’s own experience in those dark times. What he learned about what to do when temptation comes in the darkness. You know how we rationalise this? I have to sin to save my skin; when I’m afraid I just think I have to do whatever it takes, no matter what the consequences are, to save my own skin.