How do you see God in the darkest times of your life? Maybe you’re coping with cancer, chemotherapy, chronic pain, constant suffering. Maybe your child is ill or lost, your husband gone, your hopes and dreams destroyed. Maybe you’ve been left at the alter, or maybe you walked away from a marriage or relationship and now you regret it.
You don’t just feel sad and alone — you feel abandoned, rejected, even hated by the God you believe in and once loved. You never thought you could feel so bad, and part of you is scared you’ll never feel good, happy or whole again.
Learning how to endure a spiritually dark time is the single most important thing you could ever do. And I have good news! You can weather this storm by walking forward in faith and hope, you will see God in the dark. You can choose to live in light, life, love and freedom. And you will get through this terrible, sad, lonely time.
You may not be able to see God in the dark right now, but He is with you. He is here — He led you to She Blossoms, and He has a plan for your life. Jesus has always been with you, even through the darkest times of your life. The Holy Spirit has always been gazing at you — especially when you’re sad and hurt, lost and scared. God never stopped loving you even when He let you go through dark seasons, dry periods, and terrible catastrophes.
I don’t know why God lets us experience pain, suffering, loss, and abuse. I don’t know why He doesn’t always answer prayers or heal the pain after losing someone we love. But I do know that His Son Jesus was once here on earth in human form, and that He knows firsthand the dark times we experience. I believe Jesus died on the cross to set us free from our burdens, struggles and suffering.
Here’s how I’m learning how to see God in the dark, and how you, too, can experience His life, love, peace, joy and freedom.
How to See God in the Dark
A She Blossoms reader and Exodus 30 was the inspiration for this article. I’m on a She Blossoms Through the Bible journey of writing an article for every chapter in every book of the Bible Scriptures. I started with Genesis — beginning with The Reason You Were Created – Genesis 1 and ended that series with How to Live Like You Really Are Forgiven and Free – Genesis 50.
Exodus 30 may not seem like a natural place to find inspirational tips on how to see God in the dark, but somehow the Holy Spirit led us here…
1. Light a candle every day
“Aaron must burn fragrant incense on it; he must burn it every morning when he tends the lamps,” God tells Moses in Exodus 30:7-8. “When Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he must burn incense. There is to be an incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations.” Aaron’s daily duty as a priest was to light the lamps and burn fragrant incense before at the altar. This set the tone for the tabernacle, creating a place holy to God and people. The daily lamp and incense was a place for relationship, connection, communion with God…it was both a literal and a symbolic way to see God in the dark.
Find one small way to “see” God in the darkest times of your life. In Prayers for Healing and Recovery After Surgery – Exodus 15 I described the excruciating pain I experienced while recovering from shoulder surgery. It was hard to see God in the dark; I though those nights of such darkness and loneliness would never end. I did look for evidence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but I didn’t see God in the dark. Now, looking back, I believe what got me through was my hope and faith that even though I couldn’t feel, sense, or see God in the dark…I knew in my spirit that He was there.
2. Create a pleasing aroma
“The Lord said to Moses: ‘Take fragrant spices: stacte, onycha, and galbanum; the spices and pure frankincense are to be in equal measures. “Prepare expertly blended incense from these; it is to be seasoned with salt, pure and holy.” – Exodus 30:34-35. This incense, which was made by a skilled perfumer, created a pleasing aroma for God. It represented the Israelites’ prayers and presence, and created a place for the Lord to meet with His chosen people. The holy incense — seasoned with pure and holy salt — was a literal and symbolic sign of God in the dark. The Israelites weren’t in the Promised Land yet; they were wandering lost in the desert. They needed God, and they saw Him in the darkness when they went to the tabernacle, lit the incense, and invited His presence into their daily lives.
Do a “sniff test.” Smell God in your daily life, in the dark shadows. Another cool thing about the Israelite priests burning incense was that it literally made the tabernacle smell good! The priests sacrificed animals, sprinkled blood, and turned flesh into smoke on the altar of purification and atonement. Can you imagine the stench? Even if you love meat, you’d be overwhelmed with the smell of slaughter, blood, bones. Gross. The priests’ burning of expertly blended incense didn’t just help the Israelites see God in the dark, it literally made the tabernacle smell good. Maybe you can’t literally burn incense every day when you light a candle to see God in the darkness…but what do you smell? Can you choose to smell the aroma of freshly baked bread, vanilla essential oil, strawberry bubble bath, a loved one’s sweater, your dog’s furry neck, your grandma’s quilt, a fresh flower or mown lawn?
3. Learn how the Holy Spirit brings light to dark places in life
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus,500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.’” – Exodus 30:22-25. The sacred anointing oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. He (whom I call Ruach or sometimes even Roo-Roo) is our wisdom, counselor, comforter, guide and strength. The holy anointing oil with the fragrant cinnamon, liquid myrrh, cassia and olive oil (note God’s precise instruction!) represents the presence of God in the Holy Spirit. This is the same Holy Spirit that gave Jesus the power to rise from the dead. This is the same Spirit who was with God and the Christ in the beginning.
Say “Here I am” to the Holy Spirit. One of my favorite ways to see God in the dark is to simply sit still and say “Here I am.” I get up early every morning and write to God. Often I say Good Morning, Father, hello Jesus, and welcome Holy Spirit! I ask how their night was, and thank them for my sleep. I let their light fill me — and I notice how much brighter and stronger they are becoming! Learning how to see God in the dark is a practice that takes time. The practice may not seem easy at times, but the freedom, joy, peace, light and life that grows is awesome. God is wondrous, Jesus is so good, and the Holy Spirit is amazing.
You can and will see God in the darkest times in your life if you open your mind, heart and spirit. Do not go to God with a list of prayer requests or pleas for help. Instead, practice seeing God in the dark by simply lighting a candle, creating a pleasing aroma, and learning how the Holy Spirit brings light into your life. Grow into a stronger, deeper relationship with Him by learning who He is in Scripture, in other people’s lives, and in your own experience.
And never stop saying your prayers.
With His love,
P.S. If you haven’t been able to see God in the dark for a long time, read A Simple Way to Return to God.
Need encouragement? Stay in touch!