placed in darkness

David, the king, was a man with blood on his hands. God himself told him that. And he was. The man was thrown into one war after another. Violence followed him all his life.

Yet he was one of the most honored men in the Bible. Even with all his sins he remains one of the key models of serving God. Because he was obedient. Because he loved God with all his being.

Solomon was a man of peace. God gave him no end of wisdom and no end of material blessings. And Solomon wasn’t near the man of God that David was.

It always seems like God should be pushing us to the place of peace and quiet. Only he doesn’t. The Bible is filled with violence, and attacks, and moments in which the person of God is put into a situation where there doesn’t seem to be a ‘holy’ response. Except that God has placed them there and the holy response is not the theologically ideal one but the one that is following God’s obedience.

We can feel so discouraged when in a place absolutely washed over with darkness. But we, and the Spirit in us, are light. There are places where the church has utterly failed to reach anymore, and the church as it is speaks hardly anything into lives of desperation and loss and frustration and despair. The American church is very good about ministering to the middle class.

But God still works among all people. He calls and he places people to be lights, often because of their own humility, and he uses them. Even if sometimes in the course of being there they might be asked to let go some of the ideal, that’s not separating them from God. Sometimes people choose to go to such places and among such people voluntarily. But the most effective are those who are among. Who have lost, and suffered, and pined, and despaired, and endured frustration and pain. These are the people who know, and from that knowing can speak the words of God to those who desperately need good news.

We can be a light in the midst of the darkness. Like King David. We feel the darkness and see it every day. We sometimes feel in the depth of our being why people don’t minister in the hidden places, why they don’t linger, why they give up, and why they say, “someone else.” We feel the conflict. But that very conflict and darkness is why God does place people, in the circumstances they are in, to be in places like that. It’s not the well that need a doctor, though most of the church are like Beverly Hills plastic surgeons–doing cosmetic work on the already well-blessed. It can be a special work of God to be in the darkness, among the sick, besides the lost.

It is where we are placed, sometimes in the place of our own darkness, where we are being obedient. And that is the trait that brought David so much blessing and so much of a close relationship with God. Joseph was thrown into prison for doing what was right. And while in prison he became a leader. The boy who had so many great dreams was cast into the dungeon. He lost his dreams and then began interpreting the dreams of others as he stayed with God, eventually rising out of prison with God to save Egypt and Israel from famine.

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