Walking With God Through the Dark Times – Dr. Charles Stanley

Start your day off right with the free In Touch devotional. Subscribe today. ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ CC by Aberdeen Captioning www.aberdeen.io 1-800-688-6621 male announcer: "In Touch" with Dr. Charles Stanley, reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ through sound biblical teaching. Next on "In Touch," "Walking With God Through the Dark Times." Dr. Charles Stanley: We all walk through those dark times in our lives, things we don't understand. And oftentimes they're things we don't understand why they happen and why they happen when they happen. Times we feel overwhelmed, don't understand what's going on. Times we just want to give up and quit. Times when we feel like everything seems to be hopeless and we feel so helpless. It may be that those dark times come with something financial, something that is continually a burden in your life, or it may be because the marriage breaks up, and it's a time of dread darkness in your life. It could be grief over your children for something that's going on in their life. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe it's a time of ill health, and it just goes on and on and on. Maybe your fondest dreams have been dashed and the future looks so gloomy. All of us are going to go through dark times in our life. We won't always understand why. Sometimes they're gonna be short-lived, sometimes they're gonna be prolonged, and we do not understand why God doesn't stop it even now. But even though that happens, there's a way for us to respond, and God has given to us in His word the principles by which you and I are to operate in every single circumstance of life, no matter what it is. And when we talk about walking through darkness, I want to be sure we understand something, and that is it's one thing to walk in darkness; it's something else to walk through darkness. Now the scripture says, for example, in Colossians chapter one Paul is talking about our relationship to Christ and where we are in that relationship. And here's what he says in this first chapter. He says we know, for example, that "He has rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His dear Son," so that we, as believers, in Colossians 1:13, we as believers do not live in darkness. We may walk through dark times. So there's a difference in walking through dark times, which are those times of difficulty and hardship and pain in their life, and not walking in a life of sin. For example, he says in 1 John chapter 1-- listen to what he says. He says, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." So we're not talking about living in darkness, we're not talking about walking in darkness as a sinful situation, but through those dark times in our life. And that's what I want to talk about in this message entitled, "Walking with God Through the Dark Times." And somebody, you may say, "Oh my goodness, I've been there." Well, what did you do when you were there? And you may say, "Well, that's where I am now." What are you doing and how are you responding in these dark times in your life? And so I want to choose the life of Joseph, for example, and you may turn to the 37th chapter of Genesis, because it's interesting that though he was not the most important one of Jacob's sons, that 37-50 chapters of the book of Genesis is all about the life of Joseph. And he's a perfect example for us to look at and examine and see how God helped him walk through a long period of darkness. So, I want to read these first four verses to give us a little background, a little capsule about Joseph's life, because some of you will say, "Well, who is Joseph?" And I can tell you all about him in just about a couple of minutes. But listen to these verses, beginning in the thirty-seventh chapter. "Now Jacob," one of God's chosen servants, "lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan. These are the records of the generations of Jacob." And so, he tells us about that. And so, here's what he says: "Joseph," one of his sons, "when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father. Now Israel," that is Jacob's other name, "loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic," which you have heard about, the many-colored colors of Joseph's particular robe that his son--father made for him. Very special one; coat of many colors, we call it. "His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms." So let me give you a little idea who he is. Joseph is the youngest son of Jacob--Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, God's genealogical line--and so his brothers hate him. And the Bible says many times how much they hate him because he is the protected one. And so when he goes out and brings back his father's report, it was a bad report, and so they see him as a tattletale. And then he had these dreams. One of these dreams was these sheaves, each one representing his brother, and they were all bowing down to his sheath, which was in the center. That made them that much more angry. Then he talked about this dream of the sun and the moon bowing down to his sheath. And so, the Bible says that they hated him because of his attitude. They thought he was prideful, egotistical, and cocky, and so what happens is his father sends him to check up on them. They see him coming and they say, "Here comes that dreamer." They decided to kill him. Finally Judah, the most important brother of all in the genealogical line--Jesus, the lion of the tribe of Judah-- he says, "He's our brother; we must not kill him." And so here comes a caravan. They said, "So let's--OK, we won't kill him, we'll just sell him." So they sell him to a caravan, takes him down to Egypt, and he's bought on the slave block to--bought by Potiphar, who's the captain of the guard of Pharaoh. Brings him into his household; he's doing fantastic. His wife tries to seduce him and so he's thrown into jail, and there he is for a season of time. Pharaoh has a couple of dreams, and Joseph interprets the dream, and he ends up, after this prolonged period of darkness, as the prime minister of Egypt. With that in mind, what I want to do is lay down six very, very valuable principles that all of us need to remember when we go through those dark times. So here's the first one, and I want you to be sure to get 'em jotted down now. The first one is this, that is, God is with us in our dark times. This is the foundational principle. God is with us in our dark times. And what I want you to see is how he was with Joseph. First of all, his brothers were going to kill him. God was with him. He spoke to Reuben and then he also spoke to Judah, and instead of killing him, they sold him into Egyptian bondage. Well, he was with him again. Potiphar purchases him as a slave, and so in doing so, here's what happens. The scripture tells us how God worked in his life. In the 39th chapter, the scripture says, "Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, became his personal servant; made him an overseer of the house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house on account of Joseph; thus the LORD's blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field. So he left everything he owned in Joseph's charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate." So now he's the absolute total administrator of everything that Potiphar owns. But here's what happens. The scripture says "that his wife looked with desire at Joseph, and said, 'Lie with me.' But he refused and said to the master's wife, 'Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, he has put all he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?'" And so, the scripture says, "And she spoke to Joseph day after day." Didn't listen to her; she frames him, and so when Potiphar discovers it, naturally, he throws him in prison. So now he's in prison. Well, he was with him all throughout the time he was in Potiphar's household. Now that he's in prison, listen to this, thirty-ninth chapter and the nineteenth verse: "Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, 'This is what your slave did to me,' his anger burned. So Joseph's master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king's prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail. But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. And the chief jailer committed to Joseph's charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph's charge because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it to prosper." Now, here's the perfect example. When we go through difficult times, those dark times in our life, you can, listen, you can rest on this truth that even as God was with Joseph, he's going to be with you. Does he not say in that thirteenth chapter of Hebrews, chapter five, he says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you. I will not abandon you in any situation, any circumstance, at any time." He says, "I'm gonna be with ya." And turn if you will to the 139th Psalm and notice if you will in this passage, a familiar passage of scripture, and listen to what God says in this particular passage. He says, for example, as the Psalmist is asking beginning in verse seven, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?" And the answer is nowhere. And then he says in verse eleven of this same 139th Psalm, "If I say, 'Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,' Even the darkness, listen, even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You." Therefore, no matter what you and I go through, there is no physical darkness in God's eyes as far as He not being able to see. And when you and I walk through dark seasons of our life, God sees every single event and every single part of it, so that the basic bottom-line principle, when you and I walking through the dark times, no matter how dark, no matter who caused it, no matter what the source is, the basic, bottom-line principle is this: God is with me in this darkness. And as a child of God, you have the right, you have the authority, listen, the privilege, the anticipation, the expectation; you can have absolute confidence in this, that no matter what you're facing in life, God is going to be with you in that. Now you say, "But I'm not even a Christian." Then cancel everything that I said, because the promise of God with you--when you have rejected his Son Jesus Christ, when you have spurned the work of the Holy Spirit who's trying to convict you and show you how much God loves you, when you have turned your back upon his Son Jesus Christ, you do not have the privilege, listen, you do not have the privilege of claiming God's presence in your life. You say, "Well, doesn't he say, 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me'?" How, listen, how do you develop a relationship with God? We all came into this world as sinners. Listen, we violated the principles of the word of God, we disobeyed God, we've rebelled against God, we're separated from God, and now, what is it that brings sinner and holy God together? One thing, and that is the cross of Jesus Christ. The shedding of his blood at Calvary makes it possible for me to cry out to this holy God, asking him to forgive me of my sins. And the moment He does, what happens? I am saved by his grace. He comes to, listen, to live on the inside of us, to abide in us, and now we have the living God living within us to take us through every single dark season of our life. That is, listen, that's the unwavering, unfaltering, eternal promise of every single child of the living God. Basic principle, God is with me in this darkness. Now the second principle is this, and that is that God has a purpose for allowing these dark times in our lives. You say, "Well, but you don't know what I'm going through." Doesn't make any difference. If you're a child of God, God has a very specific purpose for allowing whatever darkness you're going through in your life. Look at Joseph's life, for example. God was preparing him, listen, for a place of service that would be an awesome place of service, because the truth is, in human terms, he was he was acting as savior. Savior of his family by bringing them down. Savior of the whole civilization of Egypt, because seven long years of famine--had there been no preparation, people would have died by the thousands and thousands and thousands. And so what appeared to be an evil act on the part of his brothers became, listen, an act of salvation in the eyes of God. And so the principle is simply this: God has a purpose in it all. The third principle I want you to notice is this, and that is, listen, the darkness will last as long as is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose. Somebody says, "Well, how long is this gonna last?" As long as is necessary for God to accomplish his purpose. If you and I could look down through the darkness and look down through our life in the future, and we could see what God sees that he is doing in our life and what he's going to do, if we could see through the darkness and see on the other side of the darkness what He had in mind, you know what you and I'd say? We'd say, "Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!" Because I wanna tell you something. I've lived long enough to know and have been through enough dark times in my life that every single solitary time-- now, I acted just like everybody else at times. "God, what are you up to? Why don't we get over this? Let's move on; you know what I have to do." You know what? He didn't say a word, absolute dead silence. Watch this. I've lived long enough to know that every single solitary time that when I got through that period of darkness, I could look back and think, "Ohhhh, now I see what you were up to. I understand what you're doing. Thank you, thank you, thank you." Do I want to go back through it again? Absolutely not, absolutely not. Am I grateful He brought me through it? Absolutely yes. Am grateful for what I learned? Yes indeed. Do I wanna go back through it again? No, no, no. God has a purpose. Now watch this, he's going to make Joseph second in command, so that in these years, what is God doing? God is preparing him to do what? To be the prime minister of Egypt. And how--what's important? That he learn, he learn every single one of these things. He had to learn the customs and the language. He had to learn. Besides that, what's he doing? He's learning to be an administrator in Potiphar's household, down at the jail house; he's learning to be an organizer; he's learning to live under authority. In God's eyes, what is he doing? Getting him ready for this awesome place of service. And oftentimes, we just wanna rush through the bad times. I do just like you do. We wanna rush through them and get on with something better, but you know what? God knows what he wants to do with your life, and so, listen--watch this, all the dark times you have been through have been preparation if you've responded correctly, preparation, and have been times of progress in your life that you didn't even understand, and Joseph didn't understand it. He could have never have foretold what was gonna happen. That's why the principles are so very important. And that is, listen, God is working a purpose in our life. Then think about this, we think about all these principles. And the fourth one is this: we learn more in the dark than we do in the light. We learn more in the dark, in the darkness, than we do in the light. Think about what Joseph learned. I think one of the things he learned was probably more of an appreciation for his family than he had before, because he sorta had everything going his way. Probably began to realize that one of the reasons his brothers may have hated him so much is that he was his father's number one choice, and he probably may possibly have taken advantage of that. And so when we talk about learning more in the darkness than we do in the light, I think about--probably he learned a lot of things. He learned how faithful God was to him in all of this situation. He learned that even in his darkest moments, God kept revealing his presence and kept elevating him no matter where he was. He certainly realized and learned in this period of time that he had skills and gifts. For example, he had skills and gifts in the areas of administration and service that he would never have known in his father's household, when everything was just catered to him and his father favored him. He'd have never understood that till he got in a situation where he had to, he was forced to, and so he learned a great deal about himself. And he certainly learned, listen, he certainly learned where he was morally, because when he was tempted by Potiphar's wife, he learned by his refusal to say yes to her. He learned that he had a quality of basic godly, divine morality that tempted at--listen, probably the greatest temptation of his life, he was able to say no and walk away. He learned a lot of things about himself, but look where he learned 'em. He learned them in the darkness. Then, even in the dark times, we are walking toward the light. That is a basic principle: even in the dark times, we are walking toward the light. Now look at Joseph's life, for example. When he was up there with his family, he was walking toward the light. When he was thrown into the pit, he was still moving toward the light. When he was in Potiphar's household as a slave and a servant, he was still in the light. When he was falsely accused, still moving in the light. When he was in prison, he was still in the light. See, listen, don't underestimate what God wants to do in your life. You're always moving to the light, you see. If, listen, if my focus is upon Him, he's always moving me to the light. And even in the darkest moments, it's dark to me; it's not dark to Him. So anywhere we are in life, God is always leading us to the light. Now listen, if I refuse to follow the light that's in front of me, I'm gonna stay in the darkness. You say, "Well, how much light is God gonna give us?" I can tell you how much he's gonna give you, no matter who you are: one step at a time. Not even one day at a time, but one step at a time. What we don't realize is, listen, oftentimes we hit forks in the road in our life in a given day that God wants to use you in ways that you never even dreamed of, wants to impact somebody's life that you didn't even think were looking at you or watching you, or whatever it may be. He's always moving us towards the light, but if I shut my eyes to God's will and his plan and I'm gonna do it my way, you know what happens? I'm gonna run around in the circles in darkness until I'm gonna say, "OK, God, I'm gonna focus on you, I'm gonna trust you, because here's what you said. You said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' That's what you said. I'm trusting you, I'm believing you for it. You cannot violate your own command and still be God, amen? Therefore, I know that you're with me in this, that I am learning, that you're-- I am progressing, I am moving to the light. You are accomplishing a purpose; you've got something specific in mind in my life." You keep your focus on God, and you know what? There's always a ray just in front of you to know exactly where to step next, because God is leading you to the light. Then I would give you just one more principle. Think about this. What we learn in the darkness, we are to share in the light. What we are to learn in the darkness, we are to share in the light. I'm talking about being, listen, being sensitive. Being available to people around you who are walking in darkness and walking through darkness and don't understand, and they're just throwing out hints, and these hints are just saying, "I need help, somebody help me." Are you available to almighty God to share what you've learned in the darkness? And I wanna challenge you, all I've done is just said, look, you know what? I wanna help you become an awesome tool in the hand of God to help other people who are walking through darkness. And yet for many of you, you're saying, "You know what, not for somebody else, but for me," because you're in the darkness. And maybe you're one of those persons who's lost your loved one and it all looks dark to you right now, or something's happened to your children; it all looks darkness. Or physically, materially, you've lost it all; everything looks dark. Or the doctor's come in and said, "I hate to say this to you--I'm sorry to have to tell you this," and everything looks dark. God's awesome, eternal, everlasting, precious word will turn those moments of darkness into absolute brilliant, radiant light if you will simply read it. Trust Him to be who He is; He'll turn your darkness into light. ♪♪♪