Sometimes you can’t fight or overcome spiritual darkness. You don’t have the energy to put on your armor, much less battle the enemy. All you can do is learn how to endure spiritually dark times without losing heart, soul, or faith. And that’s enough.
Learning how to endure a time of spiritual darkness is all you need to do right now. One day — sooner than you think! — you’ll have the energy, hope, courage, power and strength to fight the spiritually dark forces. Today, all you need to do is look up and meet God’s gaze. Know that He is watching you with eyes of love and compassion, even if you can’t feel His light or warmth. Know that if you walk with Jesus, you will do more than endure spiritual darkness. You will shine.
I wrote How to Fall Asleep on Dark Sleepless Nights when I was recovering from shoulder surgery. It was the most physically painful month of my life, but not the most spiritually dark. I experienced a few hours of spiritual darkness during recovery, but it was nothing like the spiritually dry years I spent in Africa. Ooooo-weeee, that one long season of spiritual darkness!
But it’s over now. My period of spiritual darkness ended — and yours will, too.
This morning I realized that the Holy Spirit (Ruach, or Roo-Roo as I like to call her) was hovering over me the whole time I was in Africa. She was with me, but I wasn’t with her. She was there…but I was wrapped up in the enemy’s dark cloak of lies. In other words, I spent more time wrestling with feelings of insecurity, worthlessness, low self-esteem and self-hatred than resting in the love of the Father, the compassion of Jesus, and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Are you wrestling with spiritual darkness, or resting in the light? You may not have the power to fight or overcome the enemy, but you don’t have to succumb to depression or despair in a spiritually dark season of life.
How to Endure Spiritual Darkness
This blog post is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project; I’m writing an article for every chapter in every book of Scripture. I haven’t written anything about spiritual lightness, though recently I wrote How to Be More Joyful – Exodus 19.
In today’s chapter — Exodus 27 — I learned a few things about not just enduring spiritually dark times, but holding on to the light in all seasons of life.
1. Crush and bring what you need to light the lamp
“Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning,” God says to Moses in Exodus 27:20. Today this doesn’t seem like a big deal: turn on the lamps and enjoy the light! But in ancient times Israelites had to make oil from olives to light the lamps. For thousands of years olive oil has been considered the best of all oils. Olive oil has a unique flavor, and was used for everything from cooking to healing wounds to lighting lamps. Olive oil was used to anoint kings to reign and bodies for burial. But olive oil didn’t come cheap: it required vast amounts of olives to be pitted, crushed, pressed and poured. If the Israelites were to obey God’s command to light the lamps, they had to do the work.
What are you crushing to light your spiritually dark path? Turning your eyes heavenward and meeting God’s gaze can be spiritually and emotionally healing. Searching the internet for advice on how to endure a spiritually dark time can give you practical tips. Talking to a counselor or therapist about coping with depression, grief or despair can be psychologically healthy. Regardless of how you choose to endure a spiritually dark season of life, you must lift your hand somehow. You might light a lamp with the flick of a switch, but true deep spiritual light can only be found if you meet with God, rest in Jesus, and invite the Holy Spirit to refresh and revive your soul. What do you need to crush and bring into the light?
2. Tend the lamp from evening to morning before the Lord
“In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning,” God says to Moses in Exodus 27:21. An oil lamp couldn’t be left burning alone; the worst case scenario was fire! The best case scenario was that it simply burned itself out. God didn’t want the lamps in front of the altar to burn out. He didn’t want physical or spiritual darkness to touch His children. So, He commanded the priests to tend the lamps all night long.
How are you tending the light, love, and joy in your life? Yesterday I told God one of my biggest fears: that He would remove the Holy Spirit from me, and I would descend into another spiritually dark time of life. He asked why I was doubtful and afraid. I admitted that I don’t fully trust Him to keep loving, blessing, and embracing me. Why not? Because the universe is so BIG, and I am so small. Because there are billions of people on the earth — how does God even notice me, much less love and pour His spirit of joy, peace, love and light into my life? I fear He’ll just forget about me. After I told God all this, He asked me the question I just asked you: “How are you tending My light, love, and joy in your life right now? Do not stop. I will keep loving and blessing you.”
3. Keep the lamp burning continually
“This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come,” God says to Moses in Exodus 27:21. This was the Lord’s final instruction to Moses in Exodus 27, which described how to build the altar of the burnt offering. The lamp that is always burning is a symbol of spiritual light, life, blessing, freedom, warmth, comfort and connection with God. The “lasting ordinance” idea meant that the Israelites must remember what they meant to God, and what God meant to them. God exhorted — commanded — the Israelites to do the work it takes to light the lamp, keep it burning, and pass the torch to the generations to come. The Israelites weren’t to sit back and expect to be blessed. They weren’t to follow their own paths or do whatever they wanted. God called them His people, and gave them laws and ordinances to set them apart and be holy.
If you can’t find healing or light on your own, find a fellow believer to help you endure spiritual darkness. Don’t walk this path alone. Don’t rely on the internet to bring light to spiritually dark days, connect you with the Holy Spirit, or interfere with your relationship with Jesus. Ultimately, this is between you and God. He is allowing you to experience spiritual darkness for a time; perhaps it’s to bring you closer to Him or prevent you from walking down the wrong path. Maybe this is the only way to go deeper into a relationship with Jesus, to personally experience the Holy Spirit, to look up and meet the Father’s gaze.
I don’t know why God allows us to experience despair and depression, hopelessness and loneliness. But I do know that He is the only source of light, power and strength during spiritually dark times. And I know He really does love us, even when we don’t feel it.
“May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” ~ Numbers 6:24-26.
With His love,
P.S. If you’re struggling with spiritual darkness, read What to Remember When You Don’t Feel God’s Love.