God created the world in darkness before He turned on the light. Maybe He wanted to see a show. Maybe He wanted the first act of His drama to represent the coming one—the epic battle of light and darkness, the brilliance of heaven and despair of hell. But in the beginning, God looked at the day and the night and called it good (Genesis 1:1–3).
Darkness has since developed a bad reputation. Stumbling in the dark, loving darkness rather than light, works of darkness—Scripture uses the contrast of darkness and light with a heavy hand. So it’s no wonder that we look forward to the day when there will be no more night (Revelation 22:5). However, there are several things that darkness can teach us while we have it.
Darkness reminds us of the redemptive cycle of things.
Each evening, I recall that for everything there is a season and for every low, there is a high. Morning will come and with it joy and grace (Psalm 30:5). Night reminds us that even itself will one day come to an end.
Darkness is God’s permission for us to rest.
Though He tells us to work while we have light, God gives us permission—and even commands us—to rest. Sometimes when I lie in bed and my mind starts racing with things to do the next day, I remind myself that for the next eight hours I have only one responsibility: to rest. In a world that runs us ragged, God has called us to tend to ourselves, cease our labor, and get a full night’s sleep.
Darkness reveals God’s glory.
God cared so much about the darkness that He created creatures specifically for the night, such as bats, pangolins, sugar gliders, fireflies, and fennec foxes. I’m intrigued by the creatures that live so far in the depths of the ocean or under mountains that only a handful of humans have ever seen them. It reminds me that God created the world for His own glory, exercising His creativity for Himself. We are just blessed to see it and honored to tend it the best we can. “He is the God of the darkness as well as the light.” (Psalm 74:16), and He has treasures of darkness and hoards in secret places.” (Isaiah 45:3). Darkness is just one more reason to praise him.
Darkness encourages our witness.
Perhaps no other aspect of nature serves as a more powerful metaphor than darkness. It stands for evil and death, and reminds us of the potency of righteous light. Heaven doesn’t need night because God is there in spirit and body. He is the light. But, obviously, God doesn’t live on earth—at least not physically—so night reminds us that we are His representatives—that we are to take His spiritual light into the spiritual darkness (Matthew 5:14).
On that day with no more night, I’ll miss that one glow-in-the-dark plastic star on my bedroom ceiling, left behind by the previous tenants. I’ll miss watching hot wax dribble down cheap white candles at Christmas candlelight services and seeing Christmas lights twinkling on in the early winter darkness. I’ll miss that sense of wonder when I gaze at the stars, the moon, and the planets. I’ll miss making futile wishes on shooting stars and spotting Orion’s belt.
But for now I want to learn from the darkness—even as I look forward to the day when it’s only a memory.