It’s true that God is light.
“This is the message God has given us to pass on to you: that God is Light and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5, emphasis mine)”
Which is why I was stumped when I ran across this verse while reading 1st Kings 8:
“The Lord has said that he would live in the thick darkness.” (vs 12)
I did a Google search for “thick darkness,” and found an excellent article, God Dwells In Thick Darkness, by Adam J. Walker (https://adamjwalker.com/2014/03/god-dwells-in-thick-darkness/).
Mr. Walker first suggests that no human can look upon God in His full glory:
“But He said, ‘You cannot see My face. For no man can see Me and live!’ (Exodus 33:20)”
Insta-death, as my son says.
Thus, the author proposes, God dwells—or some translations say “hides”—in darkness:
“As the people stood in the distance, Moses entered into the deep darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:21)”
“Clouds and darkness surround him. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. (Psalm 97:2)”
Mr. Walker submits the idea that God does this for two reasons:
God wants to be near His people. In the instances above, He could have sent a messenger, but the Lord Himself wanted to be near His beloved children
We often dwell in darkness ourselves, during times of depression, worry, pain, tragedy, etc. Though we feel alone, the Lord is right there in the midst of the darkness.
Interesting that God Himself is PURE LIGHT, but masks His unapproachable light in clouds and darkness, so He can be nearer to us.
I don’t know about you, but this brought me great comfort.
As I’ve chronicled many times in the past, for three and a half decades I’ve struggled with chronic pain in my back, hips and legs. This has also introduced bouts of depression, as well as struggles with anger, which, when matured, grows into bitterness.
So I can relate to those who feel they are surrounded by darkness, even if they’re following the Light, Jesus. Some say Christians shouldn’t be depressed, anxious or angry, but I can show you example after example of people in the Word, our biblical heroes, who struggled with these:
In the Old Testament, Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi had lost her husband and two sons while she was a refugee, and when she returned to her homeland, was angry and depressed. “’Don’t call me Naomi,’ she told them. ‘Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.’ (Ruth 1:20-21″
The name “Naomi” means “pleasantness,” and “Mara” means “bitter.” She’s flat-out saying, “I may have been pleasant in the past, but tragedy and heartache have stolen that person away. I am now bitter and angry.”
Another example is that, after many spiritual victories, Elijah sat down in the desert and lamented: “’I’ve had enough,’ he told the Lord. ‘Take away my life. I’ve got to die sometime, and it might as well be now.’ (1 Kings 19:4)”
In the fourth chapter, third verse, of the book named after him, Jonah stated, “Now O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live,” and then in 4:9 he cried, “…I am angry enough to die.”
And then there are the examples from the book of Psalms. Over and over again we read of the writer’s disillusion, anger, depression and sadness.
As they say, “The struggle is real!”
So the next time you feel swallowed in darkness, please realize that God is right there with you. He may seem hidden, but it only seems that way.
Jesus is there, in the midst of your thick and strangling darkness, and will allow enough light to peek through those dark clouds to lead you to safety, to peace.
Just trust Him.