It is always exciting to read this newsletter and learn of all the different ways God has met people’s needs. Those testimonies are very important as they give encouragement to all of us.
I too would like to share an incident in my life that was a turning point in my walk with Christ but with, perhaps, a little different perspective.
It was late spring of 1968 and the Tet Offensive was over but North Vietnam was starting a new push around Hue. We were called to “Condition One” which meant they were expecting an attack and everybody manned the lines. Military Intelligence (an oxymoron) had determined 2000 North Vietnamese Regulars were approaching our camp to try to take out the marine artillery batteries we shared the compound with. They fully expected us to be overrun.
The High Command’s solution to this threat was to issue extra ammo, distribute all the hand grenades, and flatten the camp with air strikes when they come through the lines. Rest easy folks, we have the situation well in hand.
As darkness fell we hunkered down into our fighting holes to spend the next eight hours staring into one of the darkest nights I can ever remember. You literally could not see anything, but could imagine everything. Several times throughout the night men fired into imaginary assaults.
Praise God a real assault did not come. They moved up to our lines and for whatever reason retreated back into the hills. I believe, once again, the Lord intervened.
We again have a crisis and God’s intervention is at hand, which is wonderful. However, I would like to take a moment to reflect on another aspect of that situation – the night. We always have the night to endure, whether it’s hours, days or years. These are the darkest of times that we often times neglect to describe as we give our testimonies to God’s miracles. But, perhaps, the greater the darkness, the greater the miracle!
The “nights” all people go through during times of crisis are unique to each of us but are certainly part of living in a fallen world. Our Lord certainly had a “night” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36), the disciples had a “night” on the Sea of Galilee (Luke 22-25), and Joseph had years of “nights” (Genesis 37) before he saw a dawn.
We love the dawn and it builds our faith, but it is the “night” that strengthens our relationship with the Lord. These times are a very personal experience, even when surrounded by loved ones who want to help and are praying vehemently for us. When you can see nothing but blackness you have to make a choice; despair in the dark or allow the light of Christ to shine in your heart and trust in Him.
Our Lord, in the Garden, sweated blood over that choice, so how much more do we struggle.
It’s a blessing to be old (at least in the Lord) in that we have already seen God’s provision and can look back and be encouraged by those experiences, but those experiences don’t make those “nights” any less dark. Grief is grief, hurt is hurt, and fear is fear – no way around it.
Lying in that trench, not knowing whether I would see my wife and unborn child again, I realized I had only that Jesus I knew about from church to reach out to. No one around me, even if I could see them, would make a difference.
I found out that He was more than someone to believe in but someone to experience. No, the fear did not go away. The uncertainty still surrounded me. The darkness didn’t turn to light. But, that peace that passes all understanding became real to me that night.
It’s nearly impossible to describe – a lot like explaining to a person what “wet” feels like. But it is real and we need to assure those that are struggling that it is available to them if they will seek our Lord for strength. It is not an easy answer nor is it a fix to the problem, but He will walk through the night with us.
And that is why God allows us to experience “nights.”
They can be terrible, heartbreaking times that seem to devastate us, but even then God has a purpose and a measure of peace if we can only look to Him.
Be strengthened in the darkness.