Monday, July 27, 2015
The Answer(s) to the Why Question: I'm not sure you'll like any of them
I preached yesterday on the terrible psalm of darkness, #88. It wasn't much fun for anyone. It certainly wasn't for me. But I'm grateful for it because it breaks the silence we don't know how to break when the darkness settles in. And along the way, when we ask the inevitable question of why it's happening, here were and are my thoughts.
(I hope these are helpful, even if they're not necessarily pleasant)
Answer 1: darkness can be happening to you because it's a consequence of some choice(s) you made. Galatians 6 is very clear: don't be deceived, God isn't going to be mocked. If you sow something, you will reap that very same kind of something. In the same way you can't sow an apple seed expecting an orange tree, so you can't so disobedience of any sort and expect godly fruit. It just doesn't happen that way.
There can be direct consequences or indirect ones. Direct: I kill someone and then go to jail. Indirect: I don't deal with my addictions to anger or porn addiction or unforgiveness or something else that's allegedly secret, but because it's in the nature of those demonic beasts, they seep into the other areas of my life and poison them. Either way, that's reaping what you sow.
The best way to rid yourself of that darkness is repenting of the sin and asking for forgiveness and the transforming power of Jesus.
Answer 2: darkness can be happening to you because God is using it to shape you uniquely, doing so in some way that couldn't be accomplished as deeply or effectively in any other way. I pointed our church (and now you) to Romans 5.3-5 and James 1.2-4 as well as the Old Testament story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50). Nobody likes this part, but it's even true of Jesus. He was led BY THE SPIRIT into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil (Matthew 4).
The best way to endure this darkness is to think of what is to come. None of these trials are in vain. They weren't for Joseph. They weren't for Jesus. They're not for you.
How do you know if you're in this particular kind of darkness? Most likely you sense God doing something even though you can't put your finger on it yet. Furthermore, the things of God are still sweet to the taste (as Jonathan Edwards would say) and you have hope.
That's not the case of the last answer.
Answer 3: darkness can be happening because God is up to something but doesn't tell you about it at all. It's just dark. This is the issue in Psalm 88. It's emptiness on this end of the line and silence on the other end. The sermon I preached on this will be up this morning, so if you want more to think about on this topic, I'd point you there.
But what do you do when this happens? Position yourself to be near God. Even if you don't know what He's up to and He's not speaking to you anyway. Even if your prayers hit the ceiling (or don't even rise that high) and the Bible has words and punctuation but no meaning. Even if you are irritated by church and truth and testimonies and the coffee in Sunday School. Even if. Just be near Him. Whatever it takes, be near Him.
It's your good (Psalm 73.28).
One day the darkness will lift. One day the fog will be blown away. One day the sun will shine. One day the good will outweigh the struggle. One day it will be okay again. One day.
Be near Him until then.