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About Dark Times
Pastor Jack Hoffman ©2003

There comes a time or times in each person’s life in which they fall headlong into a dark abyss, a place that is void of warmth and comfort, a place where solitude replaces companionship. Some have termed it the “dark night of the soul,” while still others have expressed their lament over its influence in the most melancholy of terms. It is not so much a location as it is a state of being. Its residence is not to be found on compass or map, yet it is clearly delineated in heart and spirit. It is the place of abject spiritual poverty. It is the experience of suffering, grief, loss, shame and helplessness. It the arrival at a spot so bleak that one feels as though no one else could possibly understand, and that there is no way out. It is that series of moments, happenings, events and experiences that combine together to drive us to utter desperation and the end of our self. It is in that residence, where it seems that God has deserted us and that all is lost, that we learn the most wonderful truth of all. He has not.

It was in such a place that Israel and Jeremiah the prophet had found themselves. Bankrupt spiritually, morally, emotionally, financially and environmentally, the nation was in darkness. Fear had replaced self confidence and famine drove some to unspeakable acts of barbarism against even their own children. Those who would survive the starvation and sword of siege would find it replaced with the humility of displacement, slavery and ridicule. It was the midnight of all midnights.

And then, when all seemed lost, the Word came. It brought hope. It began as a twinkle of light way out there in the blackness of their dark universe. Yet, it is surely just as much for us as it was for them. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.” As bad as it is, we are still here. The last breath of our existence has not slipped away from our souls after all. With dimming eye they and we behold that little twinkle begin to strengthen and become more sure, more radiant. “They are new every morning.” A new day brings a new slate and the expectation of change. Something different is about to happen. Perhaps, on this day, we shall travel up and out of the void, and onto more pleasant surroundings. Maybe God has given us another chance, another opportunity for a different quality of life. Could it be that we will laugh again? Will we be able to sing with joy once more?

Listen, all creation resounds with the message that now comes flooding through, like the dawning of the sun upon the new day. The floodlights of heaven are open. Darkness flees as we begin to bask in the assurance of God’s promise. “Great is thy faithfulness.” He didn’t desert us after all. It is beginning to change. We shall not weep forever. We will not walk with shuffled step and bowed head any longer. Let the redeemed of the Lord agree, “Great is thy faithfulness.”

Dear friend you are not the first to be in such a bleak and dark land. Suffering and hurt does not go unnoticed. I know you wonder if you can go another step further. I recognize your feelings of despair, hopelessness and loneliness. But let me tell you the same great truth Jeremiah told his people. Speaking as one who has been there, and for a vast fellowship of those that have likewise suffered and thought the blackness would never end, I can assure you that it will. You will get through this terrible night and you will one day, with us and Jeremiah confess, “Great is thy faithfulness.” Keep your chin up and your eyes looking for that glimmer of God’s grace. Your darkness is about to end.