The Deeper the Darkness, the Greater the Glory

Have you ever been in a situation so dire and calamitous that you were not certain you would be able to escape? Perhaps it was depression and despair that gripped you after the loss of a loved one. Perhaps it was legal troubles you were embroiled in, or financial hardships with no end in sight. Perhaps it was all the above or you might be in that place now.
As Rune preached this weekend, the deeper the darkness in our world, the greater His glory is shown through His church!

No Way Out… But God!
Paul went through such a type of situation. In fact, it was so desperate that even Paul – the Paul – despaired of life itself: “We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die” (2 Corinthians 1:8, 9 NLT). There was no way out.

Yet in peril, Paul grasped something powerful about God’s salvation amid danger, despair, and even death. He went on to say, “But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us” (2 Corinthians 1:9, 10 NLT). He came to recognize that many times, situations such as he was facing were a catalyst for him to stop relying on himself, and to rely on God. As a result, God’s power was manifested, and he was miraculously delivered.

No Darkness Too Deep
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13 ESV).

Have you noticed that it is darkness that a light seems brightest? It appears so because there is less ambient light to compete with it. In the absence of other competing lights, the light emitted by a light source becomes more noticeable and seems brighter. So, to show the power of God in darkness, Jesus one day took His disciples to a particularly dark part of their world, Caesarea Philippi.

How dark a place was it? Caesarea Philippi sat at the base of Mount Hermon. It was on that mountain that first-century Jews believed fallen angels took earthly women for themselves, and from their union, Nephilim, monstrous giants, were born and their evil practices wreaked havoc upon the Earth, one of the reasons God sent the flood (see Genesis 6).

Caesarea also had a cave where spring water would flow from. The Greeks believed that the cave and spring water were a gate to the underworld, hence its moniker, the Gates of Hell. There was also a temple built for a Greek god named Pan, illustrated as a half-goat, half-man hybrid. To entice Pan’s return to earth, each year, the people of Caesarea Philippi engaged in horrible deeds, including prostitution and sexual interaction between humans and goats.

It is in the Greatest Trials that God Reveals Himself
It was a dark and depraved place, so why would Jesus choose to take His disciples there? I believe that He selected this area for a powerful visual illustration that no matter how dark it gets in our world and our lives, God’s power shines all the brighter. Amid the darkness, depravity and demonic influences of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus would say to His disciples: “Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not be able to conquer it” (Matthew 16:13 NLT).

Not only was it a shot across the bow to Satan’s kingdom that had a hold on that region of Israel, it was also a signal and an encouragement to us that there is no darkness that we can face, that God’s power cannot rescue us from. In fact, I have noticed that it is in the most trying times, and the darkest moments of our lives, that God reveals Himself.

Think about it: If there wasn’t a storm you would not know that He is the Stiller of Storms. If there wasn’t sickness you wouldn’t know that He is Healer. If there wasn’t a lack you wouldn’t know it that He Provider. If there was no turmoil, you wouldn’t know that He is our Peace. If there wasn’t death you wouldn’t know that He is the resurrection and life. Let us stop seeing our circumstances as a problem and start seeing them as an opportunity for God to reveal Himself!

As we enter 2024, I cannot guarantee that we will see the economic issues, geopolitical issues, or health issues in our world solved. I cannot also guarantee that you and I will not experience some trial or storm. But what I can guarantee is that as you and I stop relying on ourselves and depend on Him, no matter how dark things get, we will see His hand in our lives, because the deeper the darkness, the greater the glory!