As a child, I was deathly afraid of the dark.
I grew up in what were known as “high-density suburbs”, home to the predominantly not-so-affluent, lower-middle working-class community.
One feature of the homes in this area were the bathrooms that were located outdoors. Depending on the layout, the bathroom could be near or far, accessible either by a connecting door next to the main entrance or in a completely separate outhouse building.
This meant that when you needed to go, it was an adventure —and not always the thrilling kind!
Lights Out Blackout
I was about ten when we lived into one such house with a separate outdoor outhouse. One night soon after, there was a power cut in the neighbourhood. It was dark outside, pitch black, and I was feeling pretty scared to go out on my own.
It felt like an eternity, peeking out into the dark, hovering at the door, hoping against hope for the lights to miraculously switch back on.
When I could no longer delay the inevitable, I stared one last time into the darkness and mustering all my courage and energy, I made a run for it with a single-minded determination.
Phew, I made it.
My outward trek to the bathroom had been uneventful.
Wounded Without The Light
One common household items we owned was a big metal washtub – big, lightweight and portable, with handles on each side. Often stored outside near the bathroom, the tub was useful for washing laundry and at bath time for young kids.
What I didn’t see when I sprinted out of the house was the tub that had been placed outside the front door.
On the way back towards the house, beckoned by the bright lights within, I bumped into the tub and felt it scrape against my leg.
Not wanting to spend a second longer in the dark than necessary, I didn’t let it slow me down. Heart racing, I felt a sense of relief once I got safely back inside. Feeling a trickle down my leg however, I glanced down and to my horror, I had a huge bleeding gash down my calf.
Everything happened in a blur after that. My father, attending a funeral, had taken the car. My mother, freaking out, dressed the wound as best she could before taking me on the bus, through the dark night, to find him.
I ended up in the ER that night with stitches and the works.
As a child, I was scared of the dark, and I have the scars to prove it.
Fast forward few decades… I recently moved house. Staying up late one night, unpacking and moving boxes from one room to another, I walk into a dark room…
Not pitch black, just dimly lit.
Hands full, I don’t reach for the light switch. Barely making out the vague shapes, I can see where I’m going and I have a good idea of where I want to place this box I plan to unpack. Unlike my younger self, I’m much more alert in the dark.
I find the spot I’m looking for, and put the box down.
I look around for a second longer and then, as I walk out, I find myself thinking, “That was nice”. And I stop dead in my tracks…
Wait, that’s a weird response. For someone who used to be so afraid of the dark, that’s an unusual feeling. Where did that come from?
3 Reasons Why We Fear the Dark
Many people, young and old, are afraid of the dark. What is it about the dark that evokes irrational feelings of fear and apprehension?
(i) Darkness obscures the obvious
In the dark, you can’t see what’s really going on. Your vision is limited, it becomes difficult to trust what you see. Everything blends in together, colours and hues indistinguishable.
(ii) Darkness challenges perceptions
In the dark, everything takes on an otherworldly aspect.
In the shifting shadows, you feel uncertain, relying on your other senses to determine the source of a sound or to locate the objects and people around you.
(iii) Darkness creates constraints
You can’t do everything you want to do in the dark. You feel constrained, and not in control of your circumstances or your environment. It’s dangerous to walk in the dark, to stumble and collide without knowing the lay of the land can cause grave injury.
Being in the dark is a complex web of feelings. The dark has become synonymous with evil, with dark deeds of the night, when bad things happen.
The darkness makes us feel vulnerable, left to the mercy of the surrounding environment and whatever else – benevolent or malevolent – that’s sharing the dark space with you.
God Created Day…and Night
God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw the light, and saw that it was good. God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light “day”, and the darkness he called “night”. There was evening and there was morning, the first day. Gen 1:3-5 WEB
The nocturnal experience of night time (as opposed to day) is described in Hebrew as a twisting away or folding back of the light.
Night is one of the greatest blessings men enjoy; we have many reasons to thank God for it. Charles Spurgeon
When God created the world, He said let there be light.
He declared the light “good”, and separated the light as day, and the darkness as night.
Why are so many children afraid at night? Perhaps it’s because there are so many things the enemy has taken and made his own.
We’ve given up the night time to the enemy, where much that bad is associated with the dark that we forget God made day and night, and that He has given us authority to bind and loose.
We don’t need to wallow in the dark and make it our dwelling place. Our goal is not to glorify the dark, but we can take it back.
God Speaks In the Night
Darkness in a spiritual sense, can speak of ignorance, gloom and doom, misery and sorrow, destruction and death, and/or wickedness.
Perhaps it’s time to teach our children that even in the darkness, God is till present, God still loves us, and God can still see….even when we can’t.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me. Psalm 16:7-8
Night time can be a time of communion with God. We can reclaim and reestablish the good that God made night for. “In the night also, my heart instructs me”, said King David.
God can be there in the night seasons and in the dark moments of life.
Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105
We can meet God in the dark places. He goes before us, illuminating the path forward, and leading us in His paths of righteousness.
Night is for Laying Down Burdens
In a figurative sense, the night speaks of adversity and challenges, a twist in our best laid plans.
When we get stressed and life gets busy, rest is often sacrificed at the altar of our busy schedules.
Like me entering the dark room, I walked in carrying a heavy burden. When we find ourselves in a dark place, if we stop and look around, and think about the goodness God has put in our lives, the things he has created for good…
If we look for that, we can find things to thank him for, even in the dark…
Perhaps, then, we can put down the heavy burdens we’ve carried in. We can walk out of the dark season feeling a little lighter, a little more refreshed, knowing that God is with us at all times.
Night Time is a Gift
Evenings and mornings are a demarcation of the passage of time.
The Jewish observance of the sabbath begins in the evening, because the day is measured from one evening until the following evening. Just as in the book of Genesis, evening and morning constitute the passing of a day.
The word “evening” means a mixture. It is no longer the opaque darkness of a world without light, but the intermingling of light and darkness (comp. Zechariah 14:6-7). This is followed by a “morning,” that is, a breaking forth of light. Evening is placed first because there was a progress from a less to a greater brightness and order and beauty. The Jewish method of calculating the day from sunset to sunset was not the cause, but the result of this arrangement. (link)
My eyes had small of a taste of the rest that comes with the night. Night was designed as a time of rest and sleep, restoration and rejuvenation.
Night time is actually good for us. God created night time as a gift.
Out of the bright light, my eyes could relax, no longer needing to stay wide open in response to the brightness.
In the dark, my eyes could rest after a long day. Without having to focus on all the colours and details, my eyes rested from overstimulation.
When the night comes, the night sky is rolled out like a scroll. When daylight comes, the night sky is rolled up like a scroll. (link)
Especially when living in a city with light pollution and blue screens have contributed the exhaustion of our eyes. It’s important is to get some sleep in this day and age.
When you are too tired, you can’t see or think clearly. You can’t stay alert.
Be alert be it day or night
And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. 2 Cor 11:14
When we forget that God made the day and the night, we don’t take back what the enemy has stolen.
We get lulled into a false sense of security, letting our guard down instead of recognizing that the enemy can show up in unexpected places. The Bible tells us that the enemy does not limit himself to operating only in the dark, but he will sometimes show up disguising himself as an angel of light.
In Genesis, Satan showed up in the perfection of the Garden of Eden. In the book of Job, Satan the accuser of the brethren even shows up in the courts of heaven.
By restoring the authority of God and stepping into our calling of dominion over day and night, light and dark, we can be spiritually alert at all times.
But you, brothers, aren’t in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief. You are all children of light, and children of the day. We don’t belong to the night, nor to darkness… 1 Thessalonians 5:4,5 WEB
The Bible says to be aware and spiritually alert at all times. We are not to be ignorant of the devil’s schemes. We are to be ready to give a defense, to explain why we believe what we believe, at all times, in and out of season. In every moment, we live ready for our Lord’s return.
Look To The Light of the World
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Sometimes we go through valleys and shadows in our spiritual lives.
Our hope lies in this: that day and night are seasons that will pass with the passage of time, and light and darkness are under God’s authority.
Jesus is the light of the world and as “children of the light”, we are drawn to the light.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
The Lord is our safety and our strong tower; He is our comforter and he is our light.
“But none saith, Where is God my Maker, who giveth songs in the night?” Job 35:10.
For it is true that man is like the world around him; he is a little world; he resembles the world in almost every thing; and if the world has its night, so hath man. And many a night do we have — nights of sorrow, nights of persecution, nights of doubt, nights of bewilderment, nights of anxiety, nights of oppression, nights of ignorance — nights of all kinds, which press upon our spirits and terrify our souls. But, blessed be God, the Christian man can say, “My God giveth me songs in the night.” Charles Spurgeon
We don’t spend much time in the dark, especially when you live in a big city – you avoid the dark, or at the very least, you are in a hurry to get out as quickly as possible. We apply this to our spiritual lives as well. But if we would actually take a moment to look around, we might see the good that God is doing in those dark moments.
God works out all things for good for those who love Him and are called by His name.
Pause, take a breath, and seek His face. Let His peace walk you through the dark seasons.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)