The Valley of Deep Darkness
"Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God" (Isaiah 50:10).
Hearing the Lord, obeying His Voice, and yet walking in darkness! Or, shall we put it the other way around, walking in darkness, and yet fearing the Lord and obeying His voice! Can these things be? The Divine Spirit has penned through the prophet Isaiah the words of that text, so that as long as Isaiah 50:10 stands written, the Divine answer must be, Yes!
First of all, we want to say that the Lord allows His children sometimes to pass through a season of deepest darkness owing to the assaults of satan, in order to bring them to a naked faith in His bare word even though their own experience seems to give the lie to it.
A Word to the Heavy Laden
We are writing to such children of God and not to those who are rejoicing in the conscious presence of their Lord and their acceptance through the blood. Many of these have never trod the depths here referred to. To such our message may have no meaning.
But it is to the poor, tortured, anguished souls, who know what it is to wrestle with wicked spirits in heavenly places, that our message comes. The darkness has closed round you, darkness that may be felt, the shield of faith has almost dropped from your grasp, and the gleam of the firery darts hurled thick and fast at you by the evil one, is all you see. You cannot rest out of God, and yet He seems lost. Nothing is real to you but the darkness. Is this a fancy picture? To others it may seem so, but not to you. We who give it, know from our own experience that it is not. The devil who would triumph in your agony knows so also. But, the devil shall not triumph in your agony knows so also. But, the devil shall not triumph. "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy. Though I fall, I shall arise. When I sit in darkness the Lord shall be a light unto me" (Micah 7:8). Even now you may meet him with the hallelujahs of faith, though not of feeling, upon your lips, as you point to the blood of the Lamb.
"Behold, he is in thy hand", said God to satan concerning Job. But only up to a certain point could satan carry out his desire. Poverty, bereavement, sickness, unjust accusations from his friends, and, what we have to do with here, spiritual darkness,all befell Job."Behold, I go forward, but He is not there", he cries in his anguish; "and backward but I cannot perceive Him: an the left hand where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth Himself on the right hand that I cannot find Him." And yet God was there all the time.
Three Subtle Snares
There seem to be three subtle snares of the devil, by which souls are brought into darkness, though these snares are often interwoven one with the other.
The devil uses God's own words to bring souls into darkness. If he quoted them to the Master in the wilderness temptation, how ready he will be to employ the same method with the servant. He knows will the peculiar bent and cast of character of each one he aims to overthrow. To a legal mind he will quote texts that will drive it into an agony of introspection, and into useless acts which are its outcome. We instance one point only.
The devil twists James 5:16, and other passages into meaning that sins of the past which are all under the blood, are to be dragged up and confessed to one and another. But in vain do you seek peace in this way. Memory will ever bring up fresh ghosts to flit before the conscience. Only the blood of Jesus Christ will lay them. No acts of humiliation before others, such as these confessions, will avail, for the sin was against God.
King David, convicted of breaking the fifth and the seventh commandments, was constrained to cry out, "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned." From these "dead works" of self-humiliation, from these Protestant penances, take cleansing through the blood, as well as for the sins they think to atone for. We use the word "atone" advisedly. The root of the evil lies here. The soul does not fully see the value of the blood of Christ. It does not see that every sin, every bit of the old corrupt life, has been buried in His grave, and that we have no right to dig up again what He has put there.
And This Leads Us on to Think of Second Snare
The devil uses the subject of consecration to bring souls into darkness. Christians are told to "yield all", to "fully consecrate" themselves to "absolutely surrender". Again, the devil drives their thoughts inwards. Scrupulous consciences are tortured with questions as to this or that which is to be given up, and the result is often a state of spiritual nightmare.
But God's grace is farther reaching than that! It is God that worketh in you to will, us well as to do. Consecrate yourselves to the Lord. Yes, but consecrate yourselves after the Scriptural meaning. "Fill your hands", fill them with Christ, bring Christ to God. Tell Him that you cannot surrender all, any more than you can do anything else to fit yourself for blessing. Tell Him that all must be of grace, that you are a spiritual bankrupt apart from grace, but that you cast yourself on grace, to do what you cannot do for yourself. Tell Him that you trust Him henceforth to write His laws in your mind that you may know them, in your heart that you may do them. Tell Him that you have died in Him, that you have been buried with Him, that you have been raised with Him, and now as alive from the dead you trust Him to live out His resurrection-life through you.
It is grace throughout. Learn to magnify the grace of God. At every fresh sight of your own impotence to will or to do, in the matter of consecration as in everything else, glory in the grace which undertakes to do all, and take Christ afresh for all your need.
We Now Pass On to the Third Snare
The devil uses the words of other Christians to bring souls into darkness. Paul said, "Now we see through a glass darkly ... now I know in part." The greatest saint, though he may have been made perfect in love, is still imperfect in knowledge. He only knows in part. Is not this the reason that sometimes a Christian in trouble of soul turns in pain to a fellow believer? The other does not understand that he has to do with a bruised reed that must not be broken, and again the scene described in the Song of Solomon is enacted. "The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me." In this way the Christian is driven deeper into darkness.
There Is Cleansing
Yes! There is cleansing! Dare to believe that whatever takes from your vision of the love of God is not of Him. Dare to believe that whatever minimizes His grace is not of Him. Dare to believe that the love of God is for you. Dare to believe that the grace of God is for you. Just now, in the thick darkness, trust that love, that grace. Let go these distorted ideas of Him that have been inwrought by satan's malice. Uprise the shield of faith once more, and say as Job did, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him", and praise God. Yes, praise Him now. Do not wait till the darkness is past to praise Him. The way out of it, and the way into the walls of salvation, is by the gates of PRAISE. "Whoso offereth the sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifieth Me, and prepareth a way that I may show him the salvation of God" (Psalm 50:23).