I don’t know if the expression “darkest before the dawn” has a bases in nature or not, or if darkness is even a measurable quantity. But we’ve all heard the adage, and we understand it because there seems to be experiential truth.
Novelists often take characters into the “black night of the soul” before a climactic reversal and triumph. And readers accept this as “real.”
Scripture chronicles a number of instances when the darkness got darker before God moved.
Lazarus got sick, seriously sick, and then … Jesus came? No, then Lazarus died. And was entombed for four days. Darkness at it’s darkest before Jesus showed up and said, Come out.
Or how about the enslaved Israelites, crying out to God because their burden was grievous. At God’s command, as a direct result of their cries, He sent Moses. And things went from bad to worse.
Keep making bricks, their slave masters told them, only now you have to collect your own materials because you’re so lazy. And when they didn’t meet their quota? Their leaders were beaten.
Darkness turning darker. And then the exodus.
Or how about Gideon. Already out manned, God reduces his fighting force, not once but twice. Darkest darkness. And then God intervened to defeat the enemies.
And even for those saints who died. The thief on the cross had Jesus’s promise that he would be with Him that day in paradise. Stephen, as he was dying, had a face that shone like an angel’s.
But here’s where I’m glad I have the Bible. I think of Abraham hiking up to the mountain with his teen son Isaac, ready to sacrifice him on the altar they would build. He didn’t know how that darkest moment of his life was going to turn out. He just knew he needed to trust God completely and obey.
The Israelites didn’t know that Moses was indeed the one who would lead them out of slavery. They thought he was, when he showed them the miraculous signs from God. But then the slave masters’ demands came and the beatings came. Suddenly, Moses’s own doubts resurfaced:
O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people; and You have not delivered Your people at all.
The thing was, God intended more for His people than just release from slavery. When Pharaoh finally sent them away, they had acquired silver and gold from their neighbors. They had a reputation as a people blessed by God, so when they arrived in Canaan, the locals were scared to death.
My temptation, when the darkness comes, is to find my own way into the light. I’m impatient and don’t want to wait for the fullness of God’s time. If I would only remember, dawn follows the darkest of the dark.
This post first appeared her in August, 2009.