“I will give you the treasures of darkness . . . .” Isaiah 45:3
Forty years ago, my wife Linda and I had just arrived in Jamaica to teach for a year. Our Jamaican hosts drove us around Kingston to settle legal details and purchase supplies that were unavailable where we were going. When we stopped for traffic signals, crowds of children sometimes came up to the car with dirty rags, offering to wipe the windshield and begging money.
At one of those intersections, our host noticed a little boy, not more than three years old, standing by the street light, not knowing which way to go. His face showed fear, tears, the look of abandonment. The flow of traffic soon carried us away and he faded from view, but not from my memory.
We can feel lost on the road spiritually – as though we were walking along with God, hand-in-hand, toward our destination and then, suddenly, we look around and find ourselves alone, though we may be surrounded by people. We no longer know which way to turn; we don’t even know what happened to the destination. All seems suddenly wrapped in darkness.
Such times are hard to endure. Cheery words don’t help. An abandoned child confronts destitution and utterly lacks the ability to evade it. For a child of God, spiritual abandonment feels like spiritual death. To be where God is not, is hell.
We expect nothing good to result from a child being abandoned. We should relieve them in whatever way we can. But our spiritual aridities can be turned to gold if we learn to endure them in God’s way. Sometimes, when our senses tell us nothing is happening, God’s work is making great strides in us.
Darkness and abandonment are common human experiences, but our darkness is our own – unique to ourselves. God does not give up watchful care over us even though we feel abandoned, betrayed, lost. We must learn to trust our darkness. We must learn to trust God in our darkness.
“At the ninth hour, when there was darkness of the whole land, Jesus cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have you deserted me?'” Mark tells us those were Jesus’ last words, before God resurrected him. The greatest treasure lay hidden in darkness.