Another Cloudy Day -
Thoughts On Darkness and Light

by Mary Stephens
March 2015

Clouds, clouds, clouds. We’ve had so much cloudy weather here in Central Texas since December. It may be “normal,” but we haven’t seen this much of it since we moved here almost 7 years ago. With my seasonal affected disorder this weather can be a real challenge. Up until recently I have been doing pretty well with it, but it’s starting to get to me – even with all the things I do to deal with it. (See Dealing with SAD – Seasonal Affected Disorder.)

One enigma to me is that when the sun does come out for a few days or part of a day, sometimes it’s almost as if it were “too much” now. I should be used to lots of sunshine! After all this is Texas! But, still I tend to get a headache sometimes or feel like it’s too bright. This doesn’t happen every time, but it has been enough to notice. I have to conclude that I’ve grown used to the darkness.

That makes me think, though. How much is our spiritual vision impacted by the increasing spiritual darkness of the world we live in? How much have we grown accustomed to the gloom of sin and sorrow and wickedness. I wonder if some or all of us wouldn’t be rather over-dazzled by the glory of the Lord if we had occasion to really “see” it.

I’m sure some would want to say, “Oh, we have great services at our church, I know all about it because of this experience and that experience.” Well, with all due respect, you live in the same crummy world we live in, friend. Most or all of us are exposed to its ugliness far more than we can appreciate. I’m inclined to say that most Christians don’t remember what it was like to “see the Son” the way Christians did "back when."  We grow used to the darkness and we forget.

I’ve read things about historic Christian situations of the past. I know believers have always had difficulties with the darkness of this world, but in all honesty, my family and some of my friends have concluded that either the Lord’s return is very near at hand, or this world is heading into another Dark Ages. The present darkness seems more brooding, more all encompassing, more accepted by Christians than it has been in most of church history. If these are truly the last days, it is no surprise. We are told in the scriptures that that’s the way it’s supposed to be. 

2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

That is not a pretty picture, no matter how you look at it.

So, how do we deal with this?

First of all, through the holy scriptures. 

Paul told Timothy, But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:14-17

We need to view this world through the light of the scripture. Psalms 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Another thing we need to help keep our eyes from being accustomed to darkness is the Light of the world.

First, that is Jesus Christ - John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Secondly, the fellowship of other believers will help us because we are a light in this dark world - Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

This is a picture of something that we usually don’t look at. This is a “dark rise.” As humans, our natural tendency is to look at the sunrise or the sunset, not the “darkrise” or the “darkset.” Somehow, spiritually we tend to focus on the “dark rise” too much of the time. Maybe the light of this age is going out as the next one draws near, but we need to focus on that light rather than on the coming darkness. We need to do this for our own peace and joy, just as finding light sources is important for the physical eye in dark and gloomy weather.

So often I am reminded of some poem by Annie Johnson Flint. This one comes to mind yet again:

When I Think of Thee

When I think of just myself and my little cares,
Looming large and crowding close, hindering my prayers,
Of my weakness and my sins, I am sore depressed;
Weary, weary grows my thought; I can find no rest.

When I think upon the world and its many woes -
Hunger, misery and crime - how the long list grows!
Greed and hatred and unrest, strifes that never cease,
Weary, weary grows my thought; I can find no peace.

When I meditate on Thee and Thy works, O Lord,
On Thy strength and majesty, on Thy changeless word;
On Thy Steadfast faithfulness, reaching to the sky;
On Thy patient, watchful care over such as I;
On Thine everlasting love, high and strong and deep;
On Thy wisdom and Thy truth and Thy power to keep;
When I think of what Thou art and what Thy power has done;
When I number all the gifts given in Thy Son --
I forget the things that pass in the things that bide,
And my soul can rest in peace, fed and satisfied.

Annie Johnson Flint

And another:

His Lamps

[God's] lamps we are,
To shine where He shall say:
And lamps are not for sunny rooms,
Nor for the light of day;
But for the dark places of the earth,
Where shame and wrong and crime have birth,
Or for the murky twilight grey,
Where wandering sheep have gone astray,
Or where the Lamp of Faith grows dim,
And souls are groping after Him.
And as sometimes a flame we find,
Clear-shining through the night,
So dark we do not see the lamp
But only see the Light,
So may we shine, God's love the flame,
That men may glorify His Name.

Annie Johnson Flint

Hebrews 12:2-3 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Oh, how we need to keep looking unto Jesus in order to endure this present darkness!

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

photography and most graphics by Mary Stephens
updated and edited 2019