This article was written seventeen years ago by my mom. I just read it for the first time, and was very blessed! Mom has continued to struggle with her health for all of her adult life (and all of my life), but has faithfully kept her eyes on the Lord through it all. What a beautiful testimony and example!
Treasures of Darkness
“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness,
and hidden riches of secret places.”
It has been about fourteen years since I heard a message on this passage. At the time that I heard the message, I had already been struggling with health problems and could relate to the message in many ways. The point of the sermon was that God sometimes allows trials that we do not understand to impart deep spiritual treasures to His children. Since I had had physical difficulties most of my adult life, these kind of trials were familiar to me. Now God’s Word was telling me that there were treasures that could only be found by going through these dark times.
Having heard about what great sacrifices men would go through in looking for hidden treasures, I knew that hardships, difficulties and sacrifices would be needed to find the hidden treasures in the trials I was experiencing, but I was still determined to find them.
Over the years since first hearing the message preached in our church in New York City (where we lived until March 2000), I have experienced times when I would feel well, but there were many months and years when I would go through severe times of great physical weakness.
At the time of this writing, I am in one of the times of darkness. In fact, I was determined with the Lord’s help to write this article during this time in order to allow the Lord Jesus to be my strength as I attempt to minister to others who are also in dark times.
That brings me to an important point. Although some of the treasures of darkness can only be discovered as time passes or as the trial ends, I have learned that the best time to search for treasure is during the darkness. By looking for treasures while we are in the darkness, we focus not on our circumstances (which could be overwhelming and even depressing), but rather we lift our focus onto things above, trusting in God’s sovereignty. We begin to get our thoughts off of ourselves and onto the Almighty God who alone is able to work all things together for good.
I have discovered that God does not waste anything. He uses each incident in our lives to develop His character in us and in those around us. By being a treasure hunter, we allow God to make us better rather than getting bitter.
By searching for treasures during the darkness, we also avoid feeling sorry for ourselves, which could lead to pity parties. Not only do pity parties rob us of joy and peace, but they also make it hard for others to be around us, robbing them of the joy of trying to minister to us. It is hard enough to minister to someone who is chronically ill or who has been suffering for a long time; when we are filled with self pity, it is much harder.
Now I will give you some of the specific treasures I have found.
The Treasure of Oneness in Marriage
My husband of fifteen years and I have a oneness in our marriage that is a rare gem. I am sure this has come out of the difficult times we have been through together. Over and over again I see him laying down his life in the form of staying home with me rather than being involved in a church activity. Often I have asked him if he feels badly that I “hold him back.” Over and over again he assures me that I am his first ministry. He is happy to be able to stay home to care for my family and I. He never makes me feel like a burden. He has asked me, “How can I lay down my life for you if I am not home where I am needed?” He is a treasure that shines ever more brightly as we are in the times of darkness.
Another way my husband lays down his life for me is by getting involved in the regular activities of home living that I am not able to do myself. I try not to require much of his help for myself, but at times I even need him to put on my socks when I am too weak to do it myself. He joyfully serves and lovingly assures me that he is happy to be able to help me. What a treasure the Lord has blessed me with! I was married at thirty-two, so I also know what it is like to go through dark times a single woman.
The Treasure of Intercessory Prayer
Another treasure that is very special to me is intercessory prayer. By praying for the needs of others, I know that my darkness is bringing help (light) to them. I use the most difficult times and even my tears to trigger off a reminder to pray for others. I usually pray for the same person or family each time this particular signal goes off until that need is resolved. There is a family in Kansas, whom I have never met, that suffered a tragedy about a year ago. I was so burdened by the situation that since I heard of it, it has been the object of my intercessory prayer. When I am having an extra hard time, I tell my husband that the Kansas family (I actually use their name) must need extra prayers right now. If their burden can be a little lightened because of my prayers, then my suffering is not in vain.
Treasures in the Word of God
Thirdly, God’s Word has become a treasure chest of jewels. The Psalms have consoled me, strengthened me, lifted me and helped me more than anything. Since I do not always have the strength to sit up and read, I started what I call my Rhema Box. The Greek word for rhema means “a word spoken.” It is the same word used in the verse, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the rhema of God.” Roman 10:17 When a word or words from the Bible seem to be personalized from God to me at a particular time for a particular situation, it becomes a Rhema to me. It is as if God has spoken the words to me. Each day as I read the Psalms I write down a Rhema or Rhemas for that day on an index card. I then put a word in the corner of the card indicating its topic – strength, healing (which I am still praying for), help, etc. and I date it. I keep some cards around the house for awhile so they can minister to me. The others I put into a little file box that is labeled Mama’s Rhemas. At times when the Bible is too heavy to hold or I cannot read, I am sure to find a Rhema card around to help me through the day. What a treasure the Word of God is!
The Treasure of Character in the Children
A treasure that has been growing right in front of my eyes is the effect my weaknesses have on our four children—two, four, six, and eleven years old. They are growing in responsibility as each year passes. Our eleven-year-old son can cook, serve and clean up simple meals for his younger siblings without any difficulty. I am thankful we have always home educated our children because a by-product of homeschooling is that the children know each other so well and can help each other. Often we have “Big and Little Time” when each boy will be with one of his little sisters for a specific time working on a particular pre-planned activity. Our eleven-year-old is often the one to plan the activity, for example greeting card making. He has even planned whole seminars for the children – including memory verses, stories, crafts, and snacks! When the activity and the clean up are finished, we go on to the next thing.
Besides responsibility, our children have also become very caring. I am often showered with notes, homemade cards and pictures. Last week our two-year-old daughter (almost three) offered to say home with me while my husband took the others for a walk to the park. She said, “I’ll stay with Mommy this way if she needs someone I can be here to help her.” My six and four year olds often keep me company, shower me with hugs and kisses and offer their help without being asked. What a blessing to see the treasure of godly character growing in these precious children.
Life is not Easy, But God is Faithful
My life is filled with challenges. I call these everyday challenges my mountains (tasks that, although they are small, seem so big to me). Some days my mountains might be getting up and dressed. Other days it might be giving a little one her bath (which only gets done about once a week to reduce the mountains – unless there is an emergency), combing out my daughter’s hair, or preparing and cleaning up our simple meals (now our children do much of that unless I need them to do something else more important). Changing a diaper, toilet training, and dressing the little ones (sometimes I have put them to bed dressed so they will be dressed in the morning, and one mountain will be eliminated). All are mountains some days. Even having my devotions becomes a mountain when I do not have the strength to sit up and read (then sermon tapes and Bible tapes are very helpful).
I have learned and am still learning not to look to my husband, to my children or to my friends for help – but rather to “look unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help comes from the Lord which made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2
Do not get me wrong. It is not easy. I have shed many tears and have struggled with keeping my eyes on the Lord. Right now I am looking to the Lord to help me with my biggest ongoing challenges:
- Feeling I am not a good helpmeet. Who is helping whom?
- Being consistent in training and the discipline of our children.
- Having to say no to things I would love to do—such as hospitality, helping others, opening our home to Bible School students, etc.
Trusting in the Lord gets easier as time goes on because I have seen God’s faithfulness in getting me through each mountain. I know that He is in control. He will see me through once again.
I realize that there are many people going through much darker times than I ever will. Maybe you are experiencing severe physical pain, or maybe you are in the midst of a serious emotional situation. Perhaps you have lost loved ones, or your darkness may be infertility or loneliness. It may be the death of a vision. Whatever your darkness is, I pray that the God of all comfort will comfort you and will reveal to you the treasures of darkness.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:11