New Days Begin in the Dark

Scripture Focus: Job 3.25-27
      25 What I feared has come upon me; 
         what I dreaded has happened to me. 
      26 I have no peace, no quietness; 
         I have no rest, but only turmoil.” 

Psalm 6.3-6
      3 My soul is in deep anguish. 
         How long, LORD, how long? 
      4 Turn, LORD, and deliver me; 
         save me because of your unfailing love. 
      5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name. 
         Who praises you from the grave? 
      6 I am worn out from my groaning. 
         All night long I flood my bed with weeping 
         and drench my couch with tears. 

Reflection: New Days Begin in the Dark
By John Tillman

As Job mourns what he has lost, he curses the day of his birth. He avoids cursing God but he curses the day of his creation and he alludes to creation events.

Job does not want God to “care about” the moment of his birth. This alludes to God “hovering” over the waters which birthed the land. He does not want God to speak light, but to let the darkness overwhelm him. (Job 3.4) He wishes for no stars and no morning light to come. (Job 3.9) He wants time itself to ignore the day, leaving it unrecorded on a calendar. He wishes for creation to be barren and for the chaos monster, Leviathan to be roused. 

Job’s despair led to a desire for deconstruction, uncreation, death. It’s a common thought process. For the past two years, Netflix has created darkly comic documentaries about the year: “Death to 2020” and “Death to 2021” 

Many now mourn, like Job. Loss, violence, and plague have come. Famine of basic necessities has struck countries, like the United States, unused to the slightest inconvenience. Famine of spiritual things also has fallen—a famine of faith, a famine of hope, and a famine of love. 

But the most terrible of these is a famine of love. This is the dark chaos many feel.

A Jewish day does not begin at the stroke of midnight or the rising of the sun but at the sun’s setting. Genesis establishes this pattern: “there was evening and there was morning—the first day.” (Genesis 1.5) It’s a modern development for us to think a new day, or a new year, begins at the stroke of midnight. However, new days do begin in the dark. 

The world began when God hovered over dark chaos and spoke light. Humanity began when God molded earth and breathed life into it. Though like Job, sufferers may wish destruction, unmaking, or death to our pasts, we can be assured that God intends life, light, and hope for us. He will hear and answer our cries.

God does hover, caringly over our dark chaos. He does cause his light to shine on us. He marks our days with stars in the heavens and sends the Morningstar to rise in our hearts. The Holy Spirit guarantees even the darkness of death will succumb to light.

Every good thing the Father of lights has for us will come. Even in the dark.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord; let us exalt his name together. — Psalm 34.3

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Job 3 (Listen – 2:32) 
Psalm 5-6 (Listen – 2:45)

From John: In this new year, we are tweaking our reading plan. We will still read all of the same books as are typically in our “even year” plan. However, we will read them in a roughly chronological order. We will not jump around from book to book (many books are written in overlapping times) but we will read them in an order that is as close to chronological order without breaking the books up. Readers have expressed interest in this and we are looking forward to seeing scriptures fall at new times of the year and becoming more familiar with how the writers of scripture depended on one another and finding new connections as we read in this manner. We will work on a graphic of the new reading plans over the next couple of months and will provide it when it is available. Thank you for your readership and for your prayer and financial support! Happy New Year!

Read more about Lamenting With Job :: Guided Prayer
With the help of the Holy Spirit lament can swallow up complaining in our lives. Lament is frequent and important in the Bible and should be in our lives.

Read more about A Generational Lament
God accepts the prayer of the despairing and the cries of the frustrated and broken more quickly than the prayers of the proud.

Honoring The Truth

Psalm 5.9
Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
   their heart is filled with malice.
Their throat is an open grave;
   with their tongues they tell lies.

Reflection: Honoring The Truth
By John Tillman

A common theme taken up by many psalmists, including David’s pleas from today’s reading, is being slandered by one’s enemies.

The Scriptures, and Christ himself, see clearly that not every accusation is motivated by a desire for truth or justice. But in our culture, many have stooped to the level of conspiracy theorists when defending the leaders they love. Some communities have chosen to shame accusers, rather than listen to them and investigate. This is harmful to the cause of truth because it discourages anyone, anywhere from reporting anything.

Yesterday we examined a scripture telling us that those who withhold information about wrong-doing, bear part of the responsibility. If we, because of shaming and blaming victims who report abuse, suppress the truth from coming out, we also bear part of this blame.

How can we honor the call for testimony, while dealing with the reality of potential slander and false accusations? How can we give proper scrutiny to testimony without discouraging truth-tellers from coming forward? There are no easy answers. Here are three principles we can apply.

Be guided by reputation, but not blinded by it. While it is true that a good reputation is valuable (Proverbs 22.1, 1 Timothy 3.7) and can save someone from a false accusation, we cannot allow a good reputation to blind us to potential wrongdoing, prevent us from due diligence, or cause us to treat those bringing accusations in an unloving manner.

Follow the example of Jesus. Peter counseled persecuted church leaders to follow Christ’s example. Christ, “did not retaliate…made no threats,” and “entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” With Christ’s example before us it is inexcusable for believers to allow accusers (even false accusers) to be threatened or to seek retaliation against them. We must pray for and pursue the truth and trust that even if earthly justice fails, God’s justice, provided through Christ, never will.

Remember that it could be true. Even though today’s psalm from David is the cry of an innocent man who was slandered, eventually there came a day when accusations against David were true. Nathan’s words, “you are the man” stand as a prophetic example for every Christian. We all need to be prepared to speak this way to well-loved leaders when needed.

Seeking the truth is not only a spiritual quest. It is sometimes a civic one. Or a legal one. As followers of Christ, the Truth, we should ask, seek, and knock, not giving up until the truth is revealed.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling… — Psalm 43.3

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 6 (Listen – 4:17) 
Psalm 5-6 (Listen – 2:45)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more about You Are The Man — Embracing Prophetic Responsibility
Everyone challenges those they oppose to change. Followers of Christ are called to challenge the communities and individuals we are closest to.

Read more about In the Face of Mockery and Shame
We, as a culture, demand to shame others. We seem to think it is our right. The mob justice of destruction and vengeance through shame is the only system of justice our culture trusts.