“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” I read that Persian Proverb several years ago as I was walking through a year-long wilderness journey of extremely high anxiety and panic attacks that came on out of nowhere. The anxiety was so high and so pervasive that I couldn’t even shake it when I was with close friends who I knew I could fall apart in front of, if needed. It led to a huge crisis of faith where I questioned if God was even real and if the Bible could be trusted. Much of the time I felt like I was hanging onto faith by a thread. God eventually led me out of that intense anxiety and taught me how to overcome it. Now I can honestly tell you that on the other side of it, I am thankful for the experience.
Treasure Hunting With God
In Isaiah 45:3 God says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Only in walking through darkness–that wilderness–do we receive those secret treasures from God. There are certain things we only learn and experience while suffering.
My experience of anxiety tested my faith (proving it stronger on the other side); developed my character; gave me deep compassion for others in similar trials; and drew me closer to the heart of God. In the midst of what feels like darkness to us, we can be encouraged that even “darkness is as light” to God (Psalm 139:12). He sees everything. He is with you, no matter what “time of day” it is in your life.
Recently I listened to a sermon where the teacher suggested that perhaps the wilderness times in our lives are one of God’s favorite times to spend with us. Not because we’re suffering or are experiencing pain but because during those times we tend to draw even closer to the Father; to have our character refined causing us to resemble Jesus more and more; and we gain insights we never would have learned if we always stayed on the mountain top. And while suffering we also have the opportunity to fellowship with Jesus in a way that we cannot at any other time; to tap into just a small piece of what He suffered for us on the cross.
O My Strength, I Watch For You
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is written by David, who went through a very long wilderness experience before he became king. During that time he grew so close to God and learned to truly depend on Him for every need. David’s character, way of thinking, and the way he worshiped God were forever imprinted in a positive way because of that dark wilderness journey; a journey that prepared him to be king of God’s people. In Psalm 59:9-10 David writes:
“O my Strength, I watch for You; You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.”
Notice that David addresses God as His Strength and his fortress; and even in the midst of his trial David knows how kind and loving God is toward him. But here’s an interesting thing: David is watching for God to show up to help him. He is expectant. David knows that God will come through for him; he doesn’t doubt for a second. He knows from experience after experience that God will not fail him. Ever.
God Will Never Fail Us
God always wants to draw us to Himself. He wants us to rely fully on Him. He wants us to give up control to Him. So He will allow certain situations into our lives that accomplish just that: coming to the end of ourselves; not being able to control situations; having to fully lean and rely on and trust in Him. That can be a tough experience to live out daily. And that is where I was living while walking through anxiety. But the result of that experience is that I know that He is my Source. And I know now that God will not fail me. Ever. I don’t just mean I know it in my head. I mean I know it. Just like David, I know to look for God and expect Him to come through for me no matter what I am facing.
Be encouraged by that today if you are in the midst of groping your way through the darkness. God is with you. He is. Submit yourself to Him. Trust Him and watch for Him. There is treasure in the dark times, just as the stars are a treasure only visible to us at night.
Read other stories of faith here.