Darkness in life is like a cocoon to a butterfly. As nature has its painful way of strengthening or developing a butterfly in order to prepare it for the life outside, we as persons gain strength when we struggle through the darkness of a life crisis. Dark times often become our ‘cocoon’ which God uses to strengthen us.
Here are lessons we can learn from darkness:
In the darkness we yield control of our lives.
Our society places a high value on independence, self sufficiency, and achievement. While those can be positives, they can also keep us from trusting God in our lives. It is in darkness when we let go, when we have no one to turn to and we have exhausted all our resources, we search for a higher being beyond our abilities.
In the darkness we learn the value of light.
Often the blessings received and enjoyed are taken for granted until there is deprivation. The sheer contrast of light and dark, good and bad, positive and negative is what makes it possible to deeply appreciate the beauty of the light. “The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome,” says Helen Keller. “The hilltop hour would not be so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.”
In the darkness our sense of compassion is heightened.
“A deep distress has humanized my soul,” wrote William Wordsworth. Those who emerge from a dark and difficult time often have a deeper desire to help others who are suffering. There is a strong sense that the suffering should not be wasted. When we have been through a crisis situation and have survived, helping others overcome a situation similar to what we have been through does not seem to be a burdensome thing to do.
In the darkness we learn more readily.
There is a vast difference between intellectual awareness of truth which pierces the heart through an experience of darkness. “Truth which is told is quick to be forgotten; truth which is discovered lasts a lifetime,” writes Biblical scholar William Barclay. A time of darkness is often when our greatest growth and learning takes place. It is in the dark valley where we simplify life, clarify values, sort out priorities, and discover which friends are true and which friends are not.
In darkness we are more open to God.
The opportunity of seeing clearly is absent in the darkness. Because our vision is blurred, our mind is confused and our spirit is hurting, we turn to turn to God with a great hunger. We turn to seek a higher being who may be able to know the purpose or end result of our bleak situation. We seek hope, and if there is none to be seen in all elements in our life, we soon realize that there is a God who will give it to us and who understands what we are going through.
In the darkness we learn to live by faith not merely by sight.
During the dark and difficult times we acknowledge our helplessness and turn our lives over to God’s care and guidance. It is a common irony that people, after they have struggled and fought with what they think is the right way, and still lose the battle, will then try to put everything in God’s hands. What if we remember to trust God first? He is in control of everything in the first place. We often forget that fact.
In the darkness we become less judgmental.
Troubles, trials, and tragedies reveal our vulnerability and weakness. Those times strip us of arrogance making us less judgmental of others. Most of us become more accepting, understanding, and kind after we have been through a fiery trial.
Finally it is from the darkness that we emerge stronger, wiser, and more resilient. It is when we are falling into the depths that we experience the majesty and power of God’s promises. In the biography film The Hiding Place, Betsie Ten Boom said to Corrie, her sister that “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” – a statement of faith of God’s timeless and boundless love.