Growing In the Dark

Growing In the Dark

New Series Note: For tips on how to read scroll to the bottom:


 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Romans 5:3-5

Looking at my garden upon our return from our spring break trip, I was taken aback by the growth that happened. It seemed almost miraculous.

You see, in mid-March, when we left for our spring break trip there were still two feet of snow covering my garden. March is still very much winter in Colorado at 8000 feet in elevation. So, I was so surprised to return only eight days later, not only to the snow completely melted, but the tender shoots of my spring flowers already inches out of the ground.

Wow, I thought in delighted surprise, my flowers had been growing under the snow. It may have been dark and cold, but they were being well-watered under there.

Then God reminded me that this is how growth happens in our lives, but I have not always trusted God in the dark. More often, I despair that I have done something wrong and question God's goodness toward me

But through a few dark winters in my life, God has shown me that if we stick close to God and drink deeply from His Word as walk through dark patches in our lives, we grow. We grow stronger in our faith in who God is and our own character.  We may not be able to perceive it until the next season, just like I could not with my tulips and daffodils, but growth is happening in the dark.

Nearly a month later, I can tell that my spring flowers will be two times bigger, with twice as many blooms than the year before. We certainly had a long cold winter with lots of snow. Could this long, hard winter precisely be what they needed to grow? I know the last long hard winter in my life certainly was for me.

Seeing the Belief: 

My first reaction to trouble is to think that I did something wrong and now God is punishing me. This comes from a long-held belief that I am not good enough. A wound that God has been healing in me for some time now, but one the Enemy knows to play on. But God has been showing me His goodness and nearness through the trouble and trials that are inevitable in this life.

Think about the last time you faced what seemed like a long hard winter - trouble or trials. What was your first reaction? Did you think that maybe you did something wrong and so deserve the trouble? Did you start questioning God's goodness toward you?

What do these reactions expose about your belief about trouble and trials, yourself, and the character of God?


Drink From the Well: 

John 16:33 - I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.”

The things that Jesus is referring to is the summation of his teaching from that night which can be found in John 14, 15, and up through this verse in 16. These things include Jesus sending the Holy Spirit and what He will do for those He dwells within (John 14:15-30, and John 16:5-14), teaching about the vine and the branches (John 15:1-17), and for the disciples to expect persecution if they followed him (John 15:18 - John 16:1-4). This teaching taught His disciples, and now us, that in spite of the inevitable troubles we face throughout our lives, we can take courage because we will not face them alone and the larger battle has already been won.

Read John 14-16:33.

In John 14:16, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Counselor. This title combines the idea of someone who provides comfort and counsel.

How does the counselor bring you peace as you face trouble and trials?

What does Jesus's teaching on abiding and sending the Holy Spirit tell us about the heart of God?


1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

Peter is writing this letter to offer encouragement to suffering Christians who were driven out of Jerusalem and scattered throughout Asia minor for their faith. These people know persecution, suffering, and trials.  Peter mentions suffering several times throughout his letter. Look up these passages in 1 Peter also: 3:13-17, 4:12-19, and 5:9.

Peter mentions that the goal of our faith is to grow in our belief which is much more valuable than gold. Peter certainly has his fair share of trials to learn this truth. Jesus tells him, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-34. He is doing just that in his encouraging letter to the church. 

The enemy would like nothing more than to have us believe that God is not good toward us because He knows that weakens our faith. How could understanding that the Enemy is trying to weaken your faith, while God is seeking to strengthen your faith help you face trouble and trials?


Romans 5:3-5

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

For first-century Christians, to whom Paul was writing, suffering was a normal part of their daily lives. In this letter to the Romans, he is presenting a statement of faith. Part of this faith is to believe that we can overcome all things presented in this world by the power of the Spirit in us. We can rejoice because we know that God is using life's difficulties for our good - strength of character, perseverance, a deeper trust in God, and greater confidence about the future.

Has there been a trial in your life that you can look back on now and see how it grew your character and/or faith?

How does knowing God loves you, is for you and is with you help you hope in times of trouble and trial?


Break up With the World: 

Matthew 5:1-13

When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. After he sat down his disciples came to him. Then he began to teach them by saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.

The world may have taught us that if we are facing trouble or trials it usually means you did something wrong or are not on the right path. It may have taught us to avoid trouble and trials like the plague. So we grow discouraged and angry when we face them. But as you have read from God's Word, Jesus acknowledges that we will have trouble in this life, and to take heart in it because He has overcome the world. Furthermore, the Bible presents facing down trouble and trials with God as the best way to grow in our faith. And Jesus teaches that in the kingdom of God, those who face troubles and trials, but remain seeking after God are blessed and awaiting a great reward in heaven.

Is it time to break up with the world's (and he who is in the world's) lie that trouble is evidence of our failure or God's failure to protect us so we can grow our faith through it with God? He is with you and He is for you. He desires to help you through trials and trouble, both as the comforter and the counselor, to show you How much He loves you.

What could turning to the comforter and counselor look like in your everyday, facing trouble and trial, life?

Let's Pray:

Lord, You are the faithful God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. You are with me in times of trouble and you have overcome the world. Teach me to trust you and know that you are growing me even in the darkest winters of my life. I want to trust in your goodness on the mountain tops and in the valleys because I know that you are good. Help me grow my faith and turn to you always. You are my shelter, my comforter, my guide. You are my all in all. In Jesus's mighty name. Amen.

Tips on How to Read:

This new series aims to dig deeply into God's Word because it is the source of life that sustains us. Studies have shown that reading God's word more than four times per week radically changes our lives. But I don't need statistical data to know that is true, because it has proven true in my own life. As I shared last week, the more I started to dig into God's Word, the more I found what my soul had always been thirsty for- the God who loves me and desires to be in a relationship with me. I desire to share that with you too!

There are several ways you could read this, and there is no right or wrong way, but one of the ways could be to read it over four days which would look like this:

Day 1: Scripture, devotional, seeing the belief. Talk with God about your beliefs and allow Him to challenge them as He sees fit. He knows all your thoughts, beliefs and motivations already!

Day 2: Cross-reference passage and the further study listed and contemplative questions. Talk with God about these questions and be open to hearing from Him and digging even further into His Word, and His Spirit in you.

Day 3: Second Cross-reference passage and the further study listed and contemplative questions. Talk with God about these questions and be open to hearing from Him and digging even further into His Word and His Spirit in you.

Day 4: Break Up With the World, Bible Passage, Prayer - allow God to show you His way, and how you could apply that practice to your life. Use the prayer as a kick-off for your own conversation with the Father who loves you and wants to be in a relationship with you.

I hope this helps, but also remember there is no right way or wrong way. God wants a relationship with you, His precious daughter that He loves so much, He sent His Son to die for you, so He could bring you back to Him.


Micah Ruth

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