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“Still God in the Darkness”

October 25, 2009

Mark 10:46-52 Job 42:1-6, 10-17 Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22

Children see the world differently than we, as adults, see things. One of my brothers has a Master’s degree
in Psychology and I remember when he was studying for some of his classes, while I was yet in High
School, he would show me some of the things he was learning. One of the things that I remember, was
why the game of Peek-a-boo is so fascinating to small children and one reason they can be so curious about
the world around them. When you or I see someone hide their face behind a piece of paper or a file folder
or a book, we see only that they have hidden their face. When they move behind a wall, we know they still
exist behind that wall. To a small child however, the world looks different. When someone hides their
face, they are headless. When they move behind a wall, children run to see what happened because they
have disappeared from the child’s world. As we grow, we learn that people aren’t really headless and
don’t really disappear but that their physical presence continues on even when they appear to be hidden
from us. Likewise, when our families are sitting in the living room in the evening and the power goes out,
we all know that everyone is right where they were when the lights were on. This is all a part of growing
up, developing, maturing and becoming an adult. So why is it that even as an adult, when difficult times
come upon us, when our lives are plunged into darkness, that many of us run in fear because God has
disappeared? Why are otherwise mature adults so prone to believing that God has left them in their time of
trouble, or even worse, believe that simply because dark times have come upon them, that God has caused
the darkness?

This morning I want to hear three voices from scripture to hear the perspective of others who have lived
through dark and difficult times. (Job 42:1-6, 10-17)
1
Then Job replied to the LORD :
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"I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3
You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4
"You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.'
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My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes."
10
After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much
as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with
him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him,
and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

1
12
The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six
thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and
three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch.
15
Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father
granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
16
After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth
generation. 17 And so he died, old and full of years.

After Job’s time of darkness, after God answered Job sternly and scolded him for presuming to know
God’s business, Job says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Essentially saying
that as close to God as Job had always been, now, after his time of hardship and darkness, now, Job feels
closer still. When Job says, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes,” he tells us that he
recognizes that he has indeed done wrong. Job held all along that he had done nothing wrong but he knows
that he crossed a line when he questioned God’s sovereignty. When Job had said, “I didn’t deserve this,”
he was right. When Job accused God of doing wrong he crossed a line. When Job accused God of
committing injustice, he crossed a line. When Job claimed that God could not indict him for wrongdoing
he was just plain wrong. We cannot present ourselves as righteous before God if we stand on our own
merit. Our only hope of righteousness is through God’s divine grace and mercy and through his Son Jesus
Christ. God knew that Job didn’t deserve what Satan had dished out and God’s mercy returned to Job what
Satan had taken away and then doubled it. For every animal that Job, lost he received two and if we
consider that Job would be reunited with his children in eternity, then we can understand that Job was
given double the number of children as well.

In Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22, we hear the voice of David, a person who has lived through dark times and has
also grown and learned from his time in the darkness. (the emphasis added in the following is mine)
1
I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
2
My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

• We are told that we should boast in God even when we are afflicted, even when we find ourselves
going through times of darkness and suffering.
3
Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.
4
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

• God helps in time of fear.


5
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

• We are taught to keep our faces pointed toward God and to stay focused on God even when
everything is not coming up roses.
6
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.

• We are to call upon God for help and rescue.


7
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

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• We are to call upon God for courage and protection
8
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

• We are to call upon God to ask for his blessing.


19
A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;
20
he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.
21
Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22
The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.

• Finally we are taught that our God is not a God who condemns those who love him, but instead is
the God who redeems us and who rescues us from certain death.

Finally, in Mark 10:46-52 we hear the voice of Bartimaeus, a blind man, a man who lived in darkness day
in and day out.
46
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city,
a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging.

• Bartimaeus was begging. He was dependent upon the generosity of strangers for his basic
sustenance and for his very survival.
47
When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on
me!"
48
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on
me!"
49
Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's
calling you." 50Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51
"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."
52
"Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus
along the road.

Jesus asked the man, "What do you want me to do for you?" even though the answer is incredibly obvious
from our perspective. Jesus asks what Bartimaeus wants because there are many things that he might want,
food, prayer, or perhaps a blessing. Bartimaeus’ answer reveals his heart and his faith. When Bartimaeus
tells Jesus, "Rabbi, I want to see," he reveals that he not only believed that healing was possible, but that he
believed that Jesus was able and that God was capable. Even in his darkness, Bartimaeus believed that
God was powerful, that God loved him and that God had both the desire and the compassion to accomplish
it.

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What we learn in these passages is that as our spiritual nature matures and grows we should learn the same
lesson about God that children learn about their parents as they mature and grow physically. Just because
we can’t see God doesn’t mean that he has disappeared. Even when the lights have gone out momentarily,
we still know with confidence that God is there, right where he was before. Even when we live through
times of darkness, we must remember that God hasn’t cursed us but that we should look to God for healing,
hope, courage, protection, help and rescue.

We learned from Job that we will grow closer to God when we repent of those things that separate us from
God. We will grow closer to God when we demonstrate our willingness to give God glory during our
times of trouble and darkness.

We learned in these passages that God is not the author of evil. God does not cause harm to come to those
that he loves but he is the one who helps in time of fear, from whom we ask protection, rescue and blessing
and to whom we lift up praise, glory and adoration, at all times, even during times of affliction and
suffering.

Finally, we learned from blind Bartimaeus that we must hold on to our faith so that in times of darkness we
will remain confident that healing is possible, that Jesus is able and that God is capable.

God is still God in the darkness.

If God is not God in the worst of times, then He is not God at all.

God is still God in the darkness.

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All Scripture references are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.