By Andrea Johnson
Remember the saying “It’s always darkest before the dawn”? There was a season in my life when I wondered how dark the “darkest” could get. It seemed that when I thought things in my life were already at their darkest point, it would get even worse. Where was the dawn I longed for?
I wanted desperately for a quick way to escape my pain, such as an unexpected windfall or a knight in shining armor to save the day so to speak. I hadn’t considered the idea that dawn makes its appearance onto the stage one ray of sunshine at a time. We don’t advance abruptly from midnight to midday. I was so overwhelmed by the darkness that I hadn’t noticed the faint rays of hope that had begun to sneak onto the murky landscape.
Have you ever been in a dark place? A place seemingly void of hope? In that place it can be hard to notice that first faint ray of dawn.
When I was in that dark spot, a friend gave me a verse:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” The 1977 version says, “Let your mind dwell on these things.”Philippians 4:8 (NASB)
I thanked my friend for the verse, but in reality, I was indignant. What right did she have to tell me to be positive, she with her “charmed” life (or so I imagined)? What did I have to be thankful for anyway? Everything in my life was falling apart (or so I imagined).
Nonetheless, as soon as I voiced my complaints to the Lord, He gently brought to my mind the last part of the verse: “if there is ANY excellence, ANYthing worthy of praise.” Was there ANYthing I had to be thankful for? Of course there was, even if I had to search for it. Was there ANYthing worthy of praise? Of course there was. I just hadn’t taken time out from my doom and gloom to notice.
Did I have huge obstacles in my life? Absolutely. But I was focusing on those obstacles instead of my bigger God, a God who had angels watching over me as well as normal, everyday people who helped our little family find a path forward.
It’s hard to imagine a darker world than that. And in most people’s eyes, Jesus’ birth would not have conjured up the slightest ray of hope. They would have mistakenly viewed Jesus as just another unplanned baby born “out of wedlock” to a young, impoverished mom trying to survive under a brutal dictatorship.
Of course we know that Jesus purposely came into the world as a light so that no one who believed in Him would remain in darkness (John 12:46). He brought healing to the lame, sight to the blind, freedom for those held captive by sin. Yet even then as people started to follow that Light, Jesus was brutally tortured and crucified by those in power. It would appear that the Light of the World had been snuffed out, the last spark of hope eliminated for good. Talk about dark.
Thankfully, the light Satan thought he had extinguished exploded as Jesus Christ overcame death and rose from the grave. And with that act He confiscated the keys of death and darkness. Both are now powerless over those of us who put our faith in Jesus.
Are you going through a dark time right now, exhausted, unable to see past your pain? Have you lost hope? Hold on! Search out even the smallest ray of light and focus on it with a grateful heart. Sometimes it’s that very act of faith that can turn things around. You may, in fact, awaken the dawn you seek!
Wake up, my heart!
Wake up, O lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn with my song.
Psalm 57: 8, NLT
About the Author
Andrea Johnson, a credentialed Open Bible minister, is the managing editor of the Message of the Open Bible. A graduate of Open Bible College with a major in theology/missions, she has edited and co-edited several books, including Servants of the Spirit: Portraits of Pentecostal Pioneers, We Believe: Core Truths for Christian Living, and We Believe for Kids! Her goal is to reveal Christ to those who are searching for Him. In her spare time you will most likely find Andrea enjoying time with family and friends or hiking. She and her husband, Dennis, are blessed with four children, three of whom are married, and eight grandchildren.