It was pitch black at high noon. Thick darkness enveloped the entire earth, not just Calvary’s hill. There, for the next three hours, Jesus would be hanging on His cross in a dark place.
Most likely, you, too, have been in a dark place. A place where only you knew the depths of your suffering.
The criminals crucified on either side of Jesus identified with the pain of nails pounded into flesh, of excruciating gasps for breath, of burning thirst, of a pulsating headache as well as the humiliation of public nakedness. But they did not experience what Jesus Christ went through during those black hours. For God was making “the One who did not know sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21 HCSB). The sins of all people for all time—past, present, and future—were transferred to Jesus. Also, the punishment.
As with the criminals on their crosses, there might have been one or two in your life who related to some part of your pain. But there was no one who could fully comprehend the turmoil within you. Like Jesus, you sank to your lowest point, where you felt that God had abandoned you.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” cried Jesus as the third hour came to a close. The Son of God could not feel His Father’s presence. But had God removed it? There is Biblical evidence He had not.
Look at Moses as he is about to ascend Mount Sinai. “The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:21 ESV). Later Moses would say, “These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me” (Deuteronomy 5:22 ESV).
See Solomon standing at the dedication of his spectacular temple when “the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:13-14 ESV). Listen as Solomon then proclaims: “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness” (2 Chronicles 6:1 ESV).
Read what David, Solomon’s father, wrote: “He made darkness His secret hiding place” (Psalm 18:11 AMPC). This was after thirteen years of running for his life from jealous King Saul. Can you imagine the secrets God revealed to him when David knew it was only the two of them!
We should not limit God to our way of thinking. To a feeling. God knows what He’s up to. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33 NASB).
Even though we may not feel it at the time, God is in our dark places. He is working in secret for our eternal good. Calling us to a deeper experience of knowing Him. Making changes to refine our character for His glory.
We will never be where God is not already there. And there will come the moment when, like Jesus, we can say, “It is finished.”
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