The darkness of circumstances surrounding our family is oppressive and it frequently seems there is no light in sight. Recently I once again spent substantial time in the Psalms crying out to God, but was still feeling crushed by the darkness pressing in around us. I pleaded with God to meet me in His Word, and in His gracious and compassionate faithfulness He did. He led me to shift my attention from the Psalms to Isaiah where He has since repeatedly encouraged me.
As I read Isaiah chapter 50, verse 10 instantly resonated deeply within my weary and heavy laden heart. In this text the Lord is addressing His faithful servants, those who fear Him and obey Him. But most notably the Lord is specifically addressing His faithful servant who “walks in darkness and has no light.”
“Who is among you that fears the LORD, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.” Isaiah 50:10 [NASB]
Faithful and obedient servants are not exempt from experiencing darkness and lack of light.
What tremendous encouragement that He forewarned us that His faithful servants may be required to walk in the darkness of distress and suffering with no light of hope for temporal deliverance. If I am fearing and obeying Him and yet find myself in the darkness without light, I need not be surprised nor afraid that I have lost my way or left the path He has marked out for me.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” 1 Peter 4:12 [NASB]
The darkness and lack of light may be ongoing.
I am profoundly encouraged by Isaiah 50:10 because it is a charge to his servant who “walks in darkness.” The servant is not enduring a fleeting moment of darkness, a single event or incident, but an ongoing period or season of darkness. The servant is journeying in darkness with no light. This is God’s acknowledgment of and charge for the faithful servant who, like Job, is experiencing deep distress, trial upon trial and sorrow upon sorrow with no end in sight.
“As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and [is] merciful.” James 5:10-11 [NASB]
God sees us walking in darkness.
Isaiah 50:10 is encouraging because it is a clear reminder that God sees His servant who is walking in darkness with no light. No matter how dark our valley, He is never unaware of our plight. Though we may find ourselves unable to see Him through the shroud of darkness that envelops us, we are never out of sight or unseen by Him.
“If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” Psalm 139:11-12 [ESV]
God’s simple instruction: “Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.“
I love how clearly and concisely God instructs the weary servant walking in darkness. I see His graciousness and love in the simplicity of the wording of His requirement for His servant – trust in who I am and rely on Me.
“Trust in the name of the LORD”
We are to trust in the name of the LORD, in who He is. How vital that we continually meditate on and hide His Word in our hearts. He has chosen to reveal Himself to us through His Word. As we spend time with Him through His Word He allows and enables us to understand and know Him. Through this understanding and knowledge we are equipped to confidently trust in His name.
“but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:24 [NASB]
“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2 [NASB]
“Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.” Psalm 62:8 [NASB]
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10 [NASB]
“It is to trust, not to anything more. No attempts to stifle tears are required. There is no sin in sorrow. The emotions which we feel to God in bright days are not appropriate at such times. There are seasons in every life when all that we can say is, ‘Truly this is a grief, and I will bear it.’” Alexander MacLaren’s Expositions of Holy Scripture.
“Rely on your God.“
We are also to rely on our God. The context provided in the verses preceding Isaiah 50:10 demonstrates the faithfulness of God as our helper, defender and sustainer. Because of who He is, and through His provision of sustaining strength and power we can “set our faces like flint” in confident reliance upon Him.
“For the Lord GOD helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed. He who vindicates Me is near; Who will contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other; Who has a case against Me? Let him draw near to Me. Behold, the Lord GOD helps Me; Who is he who condemns Me? Behold, they will all wear out like a garment; The moth will eat them.” Isaiah 50:7-9 [NASB]
Whatever the source of our distress we have the assurance that it is temporal in nature. Both earthly and spiritual adversaries are like a garment that will soon wear out and be eaten by moths. But we rely upon our eternal God who has promised and secured for us, through the blood of Jesus, our eternal hope. We may or may not see the light of temporal deliverance, but we trust in Him and confidently rely upon Him knowing the glorious light of eternal deliverance is coming in just a little while.
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 [ESV]
“Look, sirs! If you do not rely upon God in the dark, it would seem as if, after all, you did not trust God, but were trusting to the light, or were relying on your own eyesight. Too often we think we believe, but all the while we are miles off from believing. Unless we trust in God alone, and in God wholly, we do not trust Him at all. Faith is the opposite of sight. When a man sees he has no need of faith. Blessed is he to whom God Himself is all the light he needs.” Charles Spurgeon Sermon #1895
Do not contrive to create your own light.
Immediately following His command to trust in His name and rely on Him, the Lord issues a stern warning against attempting to create your own light in the midst of the darkness.
“Behold, all you who kindle a fire, Who encircle yourselves with firebrands, Walk in the light of your fire And among the brands you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand: You will lie down in torment.” Isaiah 50:11 [NASB]
In the midst of the darkness we must not give in to the temptation to create our own light, to make our own way of deliverance. I am not to set my focus on attempting to dispel the darkness, to eradicate or replace the source of my distress or suffering. Instead I am clearly instructed to simply “trust in the name of the LORD and rely on [my] God” as I continue to obediently “walk in darkness and have no light.”
“It is in the occupation of heart and mind with Jesus that joy and peace come. To make them our direct aim is the way not to attain them. Though now there seems a long wintry interval between seed time and harvest, yet ‘in due season we shall reap if we faint not.’” Alexander MacLaren’s Expositions of Holy Scripture
The faithful prophet, Jeremiah, shares a beautiful testimony of this in Lamentations. In the midst of the darkness Jeremiah meditated on who God is, He trusted in His name and relied upon Him.
“He has driven me and made me walk In darkness and not in light. … In dark places He has made me dwell, Like those who have long been dead. … This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. [They] are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. [It is] good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD.” [Lam 3:2, 6, 21-26 NASB]
The Everlasting Light is coming.
Our God sees us walking in darkness, and out of His vast tender loving kindness and compassion He has called us to trust in His name and rely on Him. As we do, He will guide our every step through the darkness of the midnight hour until that glorious morning dawns when, Praise God, we will bask in His everlasting light never to sorrow again. Come, Lord Jesus!
“The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end.”
Isaiah 60:19-20 [NIV]
Artwork: Sarah Harmening