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finding your way in the dark
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Facing Fear

When Darkness Comes

By Nancy Williams,
Licensed Counselor and Life Coach

CBN.comAs part of a high school senior recognition, our church invited young people to lead out in worship. Through the music and the spoken word, those students expressed their awareness of God’s guidance, His protection, His grace, and His forgiveness. They drew their thoughts from the 139th Psalm in the Bible’s Old Testament, a passage that celebrates God’s knowledge of us and His constant presence in our lives.

I listened to their comments with quiet celebration. Those young adults realized the value of drawing close to the Lord and trusting Him with their lives as they look ahead to the future. Some shared enthusiasm for a career path they’ve chosen to follow, while others spoke about embarking on a journey of discovery. Yet each one acknowledged that the most important preparatory step was seeking God’s guidance and asking Him to reveal His plan for their future.

Their comments were a reminder to those of us in the congregation to consider our own life journey. Are we seeking God’s guidance and asking Him to order our steps as we make our life plans and set our goals? Are we aware of His presence in our lives as each day unfolds?

When We Can’t Find Our Way

As the service drew to a close, a challenge resonated within me: “Take hold of the hand of the One who sees in the dark.”

Right away, my mind swirled with thoughts about being in the dark. I don’t like those times. Not at all. My creative mind kicks into high gear and my imagination quickly stirs up fears of all kinds. I stumble around, reaching out for something to hold onto, until some glimmer of light breaks through the blackness.

The same is true when I feel “in the dark” about a life circumstance, when I am struggling to get my bearings as I try to determine what has happened. Perhaps I have an idea about what is going on, but I’m unsure about how or where to move and find the light. My first response is often a mixture of frustration and fear, followed closely by uncertainty, as I long to reach out for some stabilizing force so I can begin to maneuver around until I can see again.

Like it or not, darkness comes into our lives. These are times when life takes an unexpected turn: the death of someone we love, loss of a job or a relationship, illness, depression, a move, a crisis in the life of a child that we must address, a new experience we’ve not encountered before, life questions we don’t know how to answer.

It may be a sudden, severe change or a gradual life shift, but the initial response is often the same. No matter how prepared we are for managing life’s challenges, there are times when we simply don’t know where to turn or how to respond. We truly feel “in the dark.” 

So, what do we do when those times come along? Instinctively, our bodies respond to acute stresses of these types in one of three primary ways: we prepare to attack the problem (fight), run away (flight), or we freeze, unable to respond at all.

When we find ourselves in the dark about a life matter, we can stumble around and grab whatever we can and possibly complicate things, freeze in fear, give up in frustration, or we can have a plan to cope with the darkness as we get our bearings and slowly, carefully move toward the light.

What to Do First

The comments made by those young adults that Sunday morning reminded me of an encouraging spiritual truth: while we may find ourselves in times of darkness, God can see clearly in the dark. He is right there with us and knows just where we are and what lies ahead. We need to be still, acknowledge His presence, and reach out to Him. He’ll meet us where we are, offering His hand of protection and guidance. When we take hold, we’ll find the peace that comes in trusting Him. Then we can begin to take steps to move forward as He leads.

One of my favorite Bibles, The Encouragement Bible, features inspirational stories from Christian writers like Joni Eareckson Tada, who suffered a crippling injury many years ago. She has devoted her life to sharing about her relationship with the Lord and encouraging others who face difficult life challenges. Listen to one of her stories (shared with permission) about being in the dark.

“One summer, my family and I traveled to see a gigantic wonder called Carlsbad Caverns. I clasped my mother’s hand as the tour guide led us down into the cavern. When we reached the bottom, our guide turned out the lamps so we could see, just for a moment, how thick the darkness really was.

I gasped as oppressive and utter blackness enveloped me. Panic seized me and I thrust my hand into the darkness to reach for my mother. In an instant her hand was around mine, washing away my fear and anxiety. ‘Joni,’ she said, ‘you’re safe. I would never lose you.’

You probably have days that seem like cavernous holds. You can’t find your way and you search in vain for a single ray of light. Don’t be alarmed! Remember that your walk is not by sight, but by faith. And God, according to Isaiah 50:10, agrees with you: There are times when it’s hard to see even a single ray of brightness in your circumstances. But even in the blackness, God promises you will find him, close by. He says, ‘You’re safe. I would never lose you!’”

Are you experiencing a time of darkness in your life just now? If so, then let me encourage you to reach out and take hold of the hand of the One who sees in the dark. Feel the warmth of His love, the safety of His protection. Be still and listen as He reminds you of His promise to guide your steps and light your path.


Copyright © Nancy Williams. Used by permission.

Nancy WilliamsNancy Williams maintains a private counseling practice in Houston, Texas, providing counseling, coaching, and consulting services to adults in a Christian setting. Nancy has a special interest in supporting women facing various life management issues, with a focus on personal growth, healing, and spiritual renewal. An experienced conference speaker, teacher, and writer, Nancy weaves together warmth, wit, and wisdom as she genuinely connects with her listeners and challenges them to live their best life.

Nancy also enjoys writing an inspirational newspaper column focusing on life management entitled “Keeping Your Balance,” currently appearing in six weekly community papers in the northeast Houston, Texas, area. Keeping Your Balance…Finding Your Way (Copyright © 2004) is a collection of some of her early columns. She also writes frequently for The Forest Image, a bimonthly news magazine. Nancy can be reached through her Web site: www.nancywilliams.net.

 

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