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The Valley of Deep Darkness.
By Mrs Jessie Penn-Lewis.
“Who among you fears the Lord, and obeys the word of His servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (Is. 50 v10).
Sometimes the Lord allows His children to pass through a season of deep darkness because of the attacks of Satan, to bring them to complete faith in His word, even though their own experience seems to give the lie to it.
A Word to the Heavy Laden.
We are writing to you, dear children of God who are the poor, tortured, anguished souls. The darkness has closed round you, darkness that can be felt, the shield of faith has almost dropped from your grasp and the gleam of the fiery darts hurled thick and fast at you by the evil one is all you see. You cannot rest and yet God seems lost to you. Nothing seems real but the darkness. Is this an imaginary picture? To others it may seem so but not to you. The devil who would triumph in your agony knows this, but the devil shall not triumph. “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light” (Micah 7 v8).
Even now you may meet him with the hallelujahs of faith, though not of feeling, upon your lips, as you point to the blood of the Lamb. “He is in your hands”, said God to Satan concerning Job. But only up to a certain point could Satan carry out his desire. Poverty, bereavement, sickness, unjust accusations from his friends and spiritual darkness, all befell Job. “If I go to the east, he is not there” he cries in his anguish, “if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.” And yet God was there all the time.
Three Subtle Snares.
There seem to be three subtle snares, by which souls are brought into darkness, though these snares are often interwoven one with the other.
l. The devil uses God’s own words to bring souls into darkness. If he quoted them to the Master in the wilderness, how ready he will be to employ the same method with the servant. He knows well the individual character of each one he aims to overthrow. To a legal mind he will quote texts that will drive it into an agony of self-accusation.
The devil twists James 5 v16, and other passages, into meaning that sins of the past are to be dragged up and confessed again and again. But in vain do you seek peace in this way. Memory will ever bring up fresh ghosts to flit before the conscience. Only the blood of Jesus Christ will lay them. No acts of humiliation before others will atone, for the sin was against God.
We use the word atone advisedly. The root of the evil lies here. The soul does not fully see the value of the blood of Christ. It does not see that every sin, every bit of the old corrupt life, has been buried in His grave, and that we have no right to dig up again what He has put there.
2. The devil uses the subject of consecration to bring souls into darkness. Christians are told to yield all, to fully consecrate themselves, to surrender absolutely, and the devil drives their thoughts inwards. Scrupulous consciences are tortured with questions as to this or that which is to be given up, and the result is often a state of spiritual nightmare. But God’s grace is far reaching. It is God who works in you to will, as well as to do. “Consecrate yourselves to the Lord”. Yes, but consecrate yourselves in the Scriptural way. Fill your hands with CHRIST and bring CHRIST to God. Tell Him that all must be of grace, that you are spiritually bankrupt apart from grace, but that you cast yourself on grace to do what you cannot do for yourself. Tell Him that you trust Him to “write His laws in your mind that you may know them, in your heart that you may do them”. Tell Him that you have died in Him, that you have been buried with Him, that you have been raised with Him, and now, alive from the dead, you trust Him to live out His resurrection life through you.
It is all of grace. Learn to magnify the grace of God. At every fresh sight of your own failing to will or to do, in the matter of consecration as in everything else, glory in the grace which undertakes to do all, and take Christ afresh for all your need.
3. The devil uses the words of other Christians to bring souls into darkness. Paul said, “Now we see through a glass darkly . . . now I know in part”. The greatest saint, though he may have been made perfect in love, is still imperfect in knowledge. He only knows in part. Is not this the reason that sometimes a Christian, in trouble of soul, turns in pain to a fellow-believer? The other does not understand that he has to do with a bruised reed that must not be broken, and again the scene described in the Song of Solomon is enacted. “The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me.” In this way the Christian is driven deeper into darkness. Or perhaps he is urged into some path of service before God’s day of power has come. He is warned of God’s judgments overtaking him if disobedient, and goes away with the threatened curse haunting him for years.
There is Cleansing.
Yes! There is cleansing! Dare to believe that whatever takes from you the vision of the love of God is not of Him. Dare to believe that whatever minimises His grace is not of Him. Dare to believe that the love of God is for you. Dare believe that the grace of God is for you. Just now, in the thick darkness, trust that love, that grace. Let go these distorted ideas of Him that have been wrought by Satan’s malice. Upraise the shield of faith once more, and say as Job did, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him”, and praise God. Yes, praise Him now. Do not wait till the darkness is past to praise Him. The way out of it, and the way in through the walls of Salvation, is by the gates of PRAISE. “He who sacrifices thank-offerings honours Me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God” (Psalm 50 v23).
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