From Dark to Life
One of our favorite things to do as a family is growing a garden. But the vegetables, flowers, and fruits won’t grow right away. We have to tend the tiny seeds first, planting them in tiny planters in our sunroom.
Often, we use old egg cartons. Our family will fill the holes where eggs used to lay with dark, rich soil. I usually cut the top of the egg carton off, then there are eighteen spots for seedlings to grow.
My children love to get their hands messy and press dirt into the various spots. After spreading the soil, we use our fingers to poke holes into the surface. Gently we place tiny, dead seeds into the dirt and cover them. The dead things will become alive.
It is miraculous to watch tiny plants sprout from the messy dirt, and it has been miraculous to watch faith sprout from the messy places of my life by God’s love and faithfulness.
From Life to Loss
When depression wreaked havoc on my heart, I could barely see from the darkness surrounding me. I felt dead, and yet God resurrected that time and brought about new life. When I was drowning in sorrow from death, disease, and the ache of dreams dying, God sprouted a new view of His faithfulness through the darkness of life’s circumstances.
Some have said the veil gets thinner when we suffer—and it’s true. The veil separating the physical world from the spiritual world thins when we are surrounded by darkness. God seems closer, more real, and we see with new eyes.
The Secret Place
I recently read this in Psalm 18:11: “He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies” (KJV).
God’s secret place is in the dark. And that’s where we often find Him, isn’t it? When we die to ourselves, to our plans, and our dreams, letting them slip through our fingers (as heartbreaking as that is). It is through dying we find life.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Death brings life. Seems kind of silly and a little cliché, doesn’t it? How can death bring life? Only when you’ve experienced death can you say it has the ability to produce life by God’s grace.
The Death | Life Paradox
Jesus was talking about His own death in these verses from John 12. Right before this, Mary (the sister of Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead) poured a bottle of expensive perfume all over the feet of Jesus—in a way foreshadowing His upcoming death.
The next day Jesus went to Jerusalem and the people “took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’” (John 12:13). Jesus was then telling the disciples about His glorification. New life. But first He had to die.
Just like the seeds in the ground, we too must die. Paul said in his letter to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me … and those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (2:20, 5:24).
After a seed is planted, the soil and the darkness break the seed apart. The first part of its growth is underground, in the dark.
During our dark seasons, we wait for daylight. We wish for the difficult season to just be over. We wonder what can grow in all of this darkness.
Trusting in the Darkness
We know the Gardener is calling us to trust Him, but how can we trust, surrounded by darkness? I’ve asked that so many times, especially when I’ve battled really hard seasonal depression. The cold winter months are always harder on my soul. When the depression hits, I’m so scared. Will this darkness always surround me?
Is the seed scared of the dark soil, too? Does it feel suffocated and alone? And does it see the green shoot poking out from the broken shell? Does it feel too lost, too broken, too dead for God to bring it to life again?
The growth might be hidden right now. It might be hard to see any progress. Take comfort in knowing that God can see in the dark, and the dark cannot overcome His light.
It is miraculous for a huge apple tree to start out as a small black seed, and equally miraculous to watch it grow over time. We often like to skip to the end, to the fruit, but God is asking us to trust Him, even in the darkness, because He is with us (Isaiah 43:2).
Your Friend, Sarah
Sarah Frazer is a writer and Bible study mentor at sarahefrazer.com. She is the wife of Jason and mother of five. Although she serves in her local church, holds in-home Bible studies, and is preparing to be a full-time missionary to Honduras, her passion is to encourage women to get into the Bible. Sarah is the author of several self-published Bible studies for women and a free prayer challenge. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.