Two years ago, after years of begging for a pet by my siblings, we got a cat. She was a very young farm cat who we were assured was fully house broken. A statement which appeared to hold up…during the day. However, every night, after the sun had set, everyone had gone to bed, and the lights had been turned off, she would seemingly abandon her training in favor of the different rugs scattered throughout the house, whichever one was closest to the where she was sleeping.
This pattern continued for weeks. She would use the litter pan during the day, but once it became night, she would return to the rugs and there seemed to be nothing we could do to stop her. Every suggestion given to us by our vet failed to deter her. We were beginning to lose hope for the situation when a somewhat ridiculous idea hit me. After weeks of having her around, I had begun to notice that she refused to enter dark spaces unless someone was right there with her, preferably holding her. Our cat was afraid of the dark. I shared the idea with my mother who was willing to try anything at that point. We put a small nightlight in the laundry room with the litter pan and waited to see what would happen. The following morning, much to our delight, we discovered that she had used the litter pan in the night, and we have never had a problem with it since.
The fear of the dark is perhaps the most common phobia found in mankind. It is present in almost every child I have ever met. It transcends cultures, time, geography, and apparently even species on occasion. The uneasy feeling that comes from being in an unfamiliar place without being able to see clearly is hard to shake and, under the right circumstances, can get almost anyone’s blood pumping. We like to know what is going on in front of us, and when we can’t, we tend to become anxious, panicky, and even aggravated.
Like a wounded animal, we shut down or strike out in fear and uncertainty, which is why perhaps, we have so many issues trusting God when we do not know what is going on in front of us. It is in those times that we seem to forget that God is not just the Creator of the day and the light, but also the dark and the night. He is equally Lord over both and uses each of them to His glory in His timing. They are never out of His control. So if He reveals what is to come with radiant, illuminating light that makes each detail clear as crystal, then praise be to Him, but if He doesn’t. If He chooses to shroud what is to come in darkness and simply offers us His hand and says follow me, then praise be to Him all the more.
When we can’t seem to see the hand in front of our face, maybe it is because we are being hidden away within the cupped hands of the One who desires to be our eyes for us. In Exodus 33, when Moses asks to see the glory of the Lord, God says, “while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.” (Exodus 33:22 ESV) While here, God was protecting Moses from death from seeing His face, the principle still stands. Sometimes, God chooses to hide us away so that we do not see Him at work for any number of reasons, but He always does it in our best interest. It is our job, in those moments to trust Him more than we trust our own vision. We may not know where His hand is leading but we do know the One who leads, and He is worthy of our trust.
All throughout the Bible, there is this picture of “a great and terrible darkness” that comes over people when the Lord is present. All the way back in Genesis 1:2, we see the presence of God and darkness:
“[D]arkness was over the surface of the deep, and* the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”
Genesis 1:2 NASB
The word darkness here literally translates to obscurity. We see it with Abraham in Genesis 15, during the most important moment in all of the Old Testament, the making of the Abrahamic covenant. Except here, it is not just any ordinary darkness that descends on Abraham; it is described as a terrible and horrible darkness.
“As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the LORD said to Abram…”
Genesis 15:12-13a ESV
We so often think of the presence of God as nothing more than a glowing light, warm and fuzzy, and we forget that He is also the Great and Terrifying Darkness. He uses both to His glory and for the betterment of His people. So, in the times where the future seems like a dark shroud, remember that it is only dark because it is being hidden by the Lord’s hand and presence for our own good. He has us here in this place for a reason, and, while we don’t know the reason right now, we do know the One who does. We know we can trust Him to give us exactly what we need to know and the absolute, best time for us to know it.
So take comfort in that fact right now: that we might not have all the answers to all the questions, but we know the One who does. And in that, we can find a peace that transcends understanding and a faith that is anchored in the true character of the Most High.
With the trust and faith found only in Christ,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.”
Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV