Dark seasons come in all different shapes and sizes. As unique people we tend to cope in different ways, both good and bad. We tend to struggle at different times of the day or week. If you’re like me, I’ve long expected dark seasons to pass quicker than they actually do. I want to learn the lesson, grow in whatever it is, get over whatever the ailment and move on, and quickly. But God doesn’t work my way.
Moses never entered the Promised Land.
David was hunted by his best friend’s dad.
Job lost one thing after another, after another.
John the Baptist was senselessly beheaded.
Peter denied Jesus.
Paul was shipwrecked and executed.
Jesus was tortured and murdered.
Just when you don’t think things can get worst for these saints, they do. Just when you think, surely God will change things, he doesn’t. Just when you think their pain will be relieved, it isn’t. Sometimes when we have read the Word, sought comfort from God and grieved faithfully with hope, the darkness still doesn’t lift. What are we to do when we wake up day after day with the dark suffering continuing to hang over our hearts? Sometimes it’s about simply being faithful in the next moment with the next step.
Elizabeth Elliot (1926-2015) penned a reminder that she got from an Old Saxon poem that encourages us to do just that:
From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “DO THE NEXT THING.”
Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing.
Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing.
Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.
Doing the next thing can be easier said than done. But Christ will only call you to that for which he provides the strength (Phil 4:13). If you know Christ as sufficient in one minute, then the next, then the next, you’ll eventually find that he’s consistently consistent.
If you’re struggling today to do the next faithful thing, remember this:
The Lord is on your side as your helper (Ps 118:7a).
He will keep you all the way to heaven (Ps 122:5).
He will lighten your darkness and help you in the hard things before you (Ps 18:28-30).
He will right every wrong (Col 3:25).
He will bring new mercies to you with each new day (Lam 3:22-23).
So, if your darkness is not lifting, remember this: our Faithful God will renew your strength, maybe not for the whole week, but just for the moment so you can do the next faithful thing.