I know a little about darkness.
In my years of working as a counselor, I have seen people in the darkest times of their lives. They were looking for help and healing in moments of desperation. I have also experienced darkness in my own life. If you are unfamiliar with my story, you can find it here.
This is the short version: Ten years ago, I was living what seemed to be the picture-perfect life. I had an education, a thriving business, and a loving family. I invested heavily in each of these and believed that the combination of those things would lead to a relatively trouble-free life. I did not realize at the time that I had become over-reliant on those investments while virtually ignoring my spiritual life. As a result, I lost my moral compass and greed took over my life with disastrous effects. I went through a period of darkness that forced me to re-evaluate and re-prioritize my approach to life. One of the most important lessons to come out of that time was learning the value of darkness.
When I talk about "darkness", I am referring to the difficult times and trials that we all face from time to time. Some of those times are darker than others. We can usually find a way out if we persevere. Other times, we question how we will go on. In these moments, it is easy to wonder how something so painful can have value.
Whenever we are going through difficult times, there are two primary ways to respond.
One response is focusing on the darkness.
I remember having some fears of the dark as a child. I have a few memories of laying in bed at night in a pitch black room. Every sound was magnified and each flash of light was noticed. The darkness limited my vision which created fear. I remember looking forward to sunrise.
That's how darkness works. The difficult times can strip us of our vision of our next steps and we just try to hold on waiting for "sunrise".
The other type of response to darkness is using it to find light.
I love a good fireworks show. It's one of the reasons I look forward to July 4th each year. On that day, you can find fireworks anywhere. The only downer with fireworks is that you have to wait until after sunset before the show starts. Can you imagine what a daytime fireworks show would look like? You might be able to make out a few sparkles in the sky but that's about it. The darkness is essential to see the show in its fullest.
I think the darkness in our lives can serve the same purpose if we allow it. When we experience tough times, we tend to re-evaluate our purpose, priorities, and choices. As a result of this re-evaluation, a new pathway may emerge that we had not previously considered. It's likely that we never would have seen that path if we hadn't experienced the difficult time.
In this way, we can use our problems to find our path. It is also an opportunity to build our faith as God delivers us from those difficult times. So, even though darkness is inevitable, it is also often necessary to illuminating our next steps.
Thank God for the hard times.
Have you successfully navigated tough times? I'd like to hear about it. Leave your comments below.