“I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” (Isaiah 45:3 NLT)
Sitting in the quiet of the chapel in the school where I worked, I read these words for the first time, and I felt hope ignite within me. Although they had been written long ago, it felt like God was speaking them directly to me, and it made me wonder:
Could there really be treasures hidden in the darkness – even in the darkness I faced?
Did God really see my struggles and call me by name?
For the last few years I had suffered spells of what I described as “the darkness.” It would come suddenly, with no warning, and when it did it felt like a light had been switched off inside me. Suddenly the world seemed black and hopeless, like there was a shadow over everything, like I wasn’t fully present. When the darkness came, it felt like it would last forever, but it never did.
After a couple of days, I would gradually be able to climb back towards the light and I would be okay… until the next time.
It was becoming more frequent though; that was what was bothering me, and I wasn’t sure what to do.
On the few occasions I had tried to tell someone, their reactions had been less than helpful. They had no idea what to do with it and didn’t want to listen. I was left feeling that they just wanted to pass the problem onto someone else, that it was too much, that I was too much.
I hadn’t even told them about what I suspected was the real reason behind it. That was something I had never given voice to, not even to God.
As I read these words from Isaiah, they encouraged me to begin seeking the treasures in the darkness and, as I looked, I discovered that they were there to be found.
I learned that God was with me in the darkness – that he did not condemn me or see me as weak, but that he knew and he cared.
I learned to pray my way through the darkness, to pray for strength for the moment. When I looked at the day ahead, it seemed overwhelming but I learned that if I kept praying and took one step at a time, God would help me through.
I learned to prepare myself for the darkness – to fill my mind with truth while I was in the light, to write it down and hold to it, to remind myself that, no matter how bad I felt, the light had always come back on before and it would again.
I learned not to be afraid of the darkness – that God was still the same, whatever the circumstances and however I felt.
I learned to trust God more, and I finally learned that it was safe to open up.
I learned that, even though the darkness is strong, the light is always stronger, and eventually God gave me the strength to bring it all into the light – the abuse I had experienced as a child which I had never spoken of, which had held me captive in fear and anxiety for far too long. (You can read more about that here.)
When you’re used to hiding in the darkness, the light is dazzling and it is painful. Speaking out was a massive step, but it was only the beginning of a long journey of gradually allowing the light to touch the broken places and bring healing. Slowly the darkness lost its grip and I was able to live free from the fear that it would descend at any moment.
Now I live in the light. Occasionally there are days when the darkness returns, but it is less extreme and now it is only once or twice a year, when at its worst it was once a fortnight.
These times prompt me to look back and give thanks. While the darkness was unpleasant, there were amazing treasures to be discovered, and my relationship with God is much stronger than it would have been without that time.
Now I write to give others hope that, whatever the darkness they face, God is stronger, and to obey the other verse of Scripture God spoke to me at that time:
“What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear.” (Matthew 10:27 NLT)
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What a gift to hear this perspective on living with the reality that dark times do come, and God is still there — His power and His presence are not hindered by our inability to see them in the moment!
It is so encouraging to remember that God is still the same however we feel. I love how Psalm 139:12 puts it: “Even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” Such a comfort that God’s power and presence do not change!
Lesley, thank you for sharing your story, and the treasures you’ve found in the darkness. There’s so much hope here! One of my boys occasionally goes into what I call a “dark place.” It’s hard to help him see God’s hand on his life and His light in his life when he’s in that place.
Thank you for the reminder of just how powerful God’s word is, shining light into those dark places.
Thanks for visiting me here, Jeanne! I’m sorry your son suffers from those times. It is hard to see the light in those times when the darkness seems to eclipse even what we know to be true. It is encouraging to remember that God is still the same and there is always hope because the light is stronger than the darkness. Praying for you both today!
These treasures you found in the darkness are amazing, Lesley. The part about learning to prepare yourself for the darkness … practical and profound at the same time! I’m so glad that the dark days are mostly behind you and that you are now able to write about your experiences and give hope to others who might be there now. And what a blessing it is to be able to look back and actually give thanks for those times because you can see the growth and fruit that came from them.
Oh yes… to all of these lessons learned! This one: “I learned to prepare myself for the darkness – to fill my mind with truth while I was in the light, to write it down and hold to it” –as a ‘faith girl’ this can sound so much like expecting the worst but I too have learned over the years that it is for our benefit to gobble the Light and hog the glory while it is out in the open and raining down freely… not so much because we can hoard it away for another day but because we let it soak in deep and it becomes a part of us! So good!
Thanks, Lois! Yes, learning to prepare was really important. I’m grateful that God helped me find a practical way to deal with it that actually helped but also meant I had to depend on him. And I love when we can look back on hard times and see some of the ways God has worked good through them
Thanks, Karrilee! I love that description of letting the truth sink in so deep that it becomes a part of us. We’re all going to face hard times at some point and I think it makes a big difference to how we respond if we’ve let the truth sink in like that.
Hi Lesley! (Love the video/music…I’m listening to it as I type here!)
I am always so impressed with your journey from darkness to light, and all you’ve overcome. Yes! Hold on to the light, it has the illumination we all need to go our ways.
It’s so good to remember our struggles, and the places where God led us to a new place. Those places are sacred to us, and can also be a help and hope to others. Thank you for being that hope today!
Thanks, Ceil! I always appreciate your encouragement and I’m glad you liked the song. I love how God can use our experiences to give hope to others.
Dear Lesley! I think we all experience the darkness in some degree or other – whether it be from within or the sin that plagues this world. But you’ve hit on something I believe so strongly, that we can prepare our hearts and minds for the evil that is inevitable. And remembering that God is with us in those dark places is so important, because it’s easy for Satan to trick us when we are blinded by pain and suffering. Blessings to you for sharing this!
Thanks, Liz. Yes, it’s true, we all face dark times of one kind or another, and I think it is important to find strategies that help us keep focussed on God and rooted in truth when those times come.
How wonderful that you have found such relief from the times of darkness. I pray that for everyone. I know several people who struggle through dark times–sometimes for known reasons but often not–and I look forward to the day they can find full relief from it. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Lisa. Yes, I would love for everyone to find this same relief from darkness. I struggled with it for about 7 years in all before beginning to find relief (though I know for some it’s much longer). I’m not sure why God lets these things go on for so long sometimes, but it’s encouraging that there is still hope for healing even after a long time.
((Lesley)) How brave you are. The value of these lessons learned in the dark is so precious. Thank you for your generous heart — sharing your dark in order to help others back into the light. Wonderful tips, friend. Thank you. ((hug))
Thanks for your encouragement, Brenda. I hope it will help others and give them hope.
A beautiful article, Leslie. I totally agree with this truth that God loves giving us treasures in the midst of dark situations.
Thanks, Barbara. I know you’ve seen that for yourself in different situations too.
I cannot imagine going through something so difficult as abuse at any age, but especially in childhood. You are so strong and so brave. I am glad to know God has lifted you up and you have been able to lay your burdens at his feet. I hope that you darkness continues to wane away and eventually be gone forever. Your ability to overcome is inspiring!
Thanks for your encouragement, Heather. I’m glad I clicked back over here and saw your comment!
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