Rev. Dr. J.N. Manokaran is a civil engineer by profession. God has called Rev. Dr. J.N. Manokaran to be a missional leader serving with his family in Haryana as cross cultural missionaries for eleven years. Since 1997 they have returned to Tamil Nadu to help missionaries and pastors to build their capacities by teaching, training and writing. He has authored these books: “Christ and Cities” and “Christ and Missional Leaders”. He has completed his B.D. from Immanuel Theological Seminary, Georgia as an external student, did his M.Th. at Hindustan Bible Institute, Chennai and earned his Ph.D. from International Institute of Church Management. Rev. Dr. J.N. Manokaran's wife Rosy is a constant encourager in the ministry and counsels many people. His daughter Hosanna is a student missionary in Belarus pursuing her Medical studies to become a missionary doctor and son Thambos is in high school. Presently, Rev. Dr. J.N. Manokaran serves as the Managing Director of Trainers of Pastors International Coalition (TOPIC) – India and provides consultancy services to several organizations, mentor several leaders and contributes to several magazines and journals.View all articles by Dr. J.N. Manokaran
Christian life is a pilgrimage. The verse clearly states that a person could fear the Lord, obey his words and his servant, but may walk through darkness. People fear the Lord but may not obey Him. For example, a son may fear his father but may not be obedient to his father if he is not present at home. Similarly, Christians fear the Lord while in the church or reading bible but act as if he does not exist at other times.
Walking in darkness could mean many adverse impacts in ones life. The difference between a Christian and others would be the attitude and response to adverse circumstances in life. The two principles mentioned in this passage are: trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God and do not create own lights in darkness. That means to solely depend on God and refuse to solve the problem in worldly wisdom. There are several kinds of darkness in a person’s life, of which twelve are listed below. But it could be handled applying these two principles. In contrast, one who tries to create their own light, would not prosper but endure torment.
1. Darkness of Death:
David talks about walking in the valley of death. Death is really darkness as it is the end of the life in this world and door of entry to new life in eternity. Paul writes that death is the last enemy (I Cor 15:26). Death of near and dear ones is painful experience. Facing death in a person’s life is not a pleasant experience. God can send light even in the darkness of death and deliver us as this wonderful real life story suggests. Psalmist David was not afraid of the darkness of death: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4)
Recently, I met a young pastor who had an interesting story to tell. He was not a Christian when he was a street smart rogue. He murdered one business man in broad day light in the market place and was promptly arrested by police. He was lodged in jail and the police took long time to file charge sheet. Here, he met another prisoner who shared about Lord Jesus Christ. This man found Lord Jesus Christ as his personal saviour and started attending the prison fellowship regularly. Meanwhile, he got one month parole and went home. He visited few churches and shared his testimony. The lawyer who fought his case advised him to tell a lie that he was not present in the city when the murder happened and he would prepare false documents to present in the court. When he prayed, he did not feel comfortable to tell a lie. He told the lawyer that he would confess his crime. After parole he went to the prison as required. There the jailor was puzzled that he could not find the file of this man. He said, “We cannot keep you in prison without your file. Go home; when we locate the file, we will call you back.” For more than three years, the file has not been located; this man has become a pastor with two congregations. This man refused to light his own fire, relied on the Name of the Lord, God delivered him.
2. Darkness of Destituteness
Here is a woman who lost her husband and was in deep debts. Her debtors wanted to take her two sons as slaves – bonded slaves. She appeals to God and approaches the prophet. Elisha asked her what she had and she had little oil. The prophet commanded her to borrow vessels in large number from neighbours, shut the room, pour oil into all vessels. She poured oil in all vessels and the oil stopped. She was commanded to sell the oil and pay her debtors. (II Kings 4: 1-7)
It was economic destituteness. God uses what that widow had, multiplied it and blessed her. In a similar fashion Lord Jesus took the five loaves and two fish that was available, blessed it and multiplied it so that five thousand men and others were fed and 12 baskets of surplus were collected. (Matthew 14:13-21) It is a miracle of turning scarcity into surplus. God can bless what we have in a way that it is useful and beneficial more than it is to others who do not know the Lord.
3. Darkness of Danger
Daniel and his friends lived in a hostile environment. Their faith was constant challenged. Petty office rivalry, envy led to conspiracy. As they could not find any fault in Daniel’s life in his work place, they conspired against his spiritual life. An edict banning all prayers to anybody else except the King was passed. But Daniel refused to stop praying to God, he was in clear danger. He was thrown in the lions’ den. Here God sent his angel so that angels would not harm Daniel (Daniel 6). In the darkness of danger of lions’ den there was God’s provision for deliverance.
Daniel’s three friends refused to bow down before the great image erected by the king in spite of warning. They were thrown in the furnace. The King and others saw four people walking in the fire instead of three. God’s presence was there to comfort and protect them in the fiery furnace. The presence of God is the light God sends when we are in danger. Moses pleaded for God’s presence to go with them, as he led the Children of Israel in the wilderness.
4. Darkness of Depression
Depression means no hope about the future. Elijah, a great prophet of God proved God to detractors by bringing fire from heaven at Mount Carmel. This great victory and euphoria disappeared when Jezebel the queen sent him death threat. The prophet was depressed and wanted to die (suicidal tendency) as he saw no purpose in life and ministry. In the darkness of depression God sent his angel to feed him physically and the Holy Spirit spoke to him, providing new vision for ministry. In the dark moment Elijah did not light his own fire but trusted God. (I Kings 19: 1-18) His prayer was not answered as he did not die, but caught up to heaven. Thank God, He does not answer many of our silly, immature and frivolous prayers.
5. Darkness of Despair
Job was in despair as he heard news from several quarters regarding his loss of property, animals and children. He lost his health also. The most painful thing was the loss of sympathy and support of his wife. But, he was not inward looking but outward looking. Due to loss and tragedy, he could not help any one but could pray for others. He prayed for his friends and his captivity was overturned. Intercession for his friends brought light in the darkness of despair in Job’s life (Job 42:10).
6. Darkness of Discouragement
The disciples who ran away from the Garden of Gethsemane when Lord Jesus was arrested were discouraged. (John 20:19-23) Lord Jesus was already dead and buried. They were waiting for a knock in their doorstep, which could be death warrant. There appeared the Risen Saviour inside the closed room declaring Peace to all who were present. The power of resurrection was the light in the darkness of discouragement.
7. Darkness of Defeat
Joshua could not handle the defeat of Ai which was smaller city than Jericho. (Joshua 7:6-10). He was so downcast he lay down crying and praying in God’s presence. God sends light by providing him the reason for Israel’s defeat. When that was rectified, Israelites were able to win ultimately. Repentance and submission to God’s will leads us from defeat to victory.
8. Darkness of Delay
In the wedding that happened in Cana, Mary the mother of Lord Jesus brings to notice that the wine is over (John 2). It is an embarrassment for the bride and bridegroom. Lord Jesus said that his time has not yet come. When the right moment came, Lord changed the water into wine and the guests had the best wine. The light came at the right time in the form a miracle.
9. Darkness of Destruction
The city of Ziklag where David lived was attacked by Philistines during his absence. When David and him army returned they were perturbed by the destruction. All the family members were carried away captive and huge moveable assets were taken off as plunder. The men with David thought to stoning David as they were bitten in their spirit. But, David strengthened himself in the presence of God. He gets instruction and direction from the Lord to pursue the raiders. David recovered all. (I Samuel 30) In the darkness of destruction, God sends light by strengthening David to pursue his enemies and recover whatever was lost.
10. Darkness of Disaster
Disasters could be natural or manmade. Natural disasters like hurricane, storms, earthquake, tsunami, famine, drought, and flood could bring heavy loss of lives and property. Isaac was living when there was famine in the land. But, when he planted, he reaped hundred fold. “Now there was famine in the land…Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him.” (Genesis 26:1 and 12) God sends His light by providing miraculously.
11. Darkness of Distress
Darkness of distress overcame Paul when he was in the city of Athens (Acts 17:16). He observed the life in the city, which was religious but not knowing the true God. Pseudo-religious life and pseudo-spirituality made him distressed. When we see sin, sorrow, sufferings, wickedness, evil, witchcraft, perversions, celebration of sin and evil, violence, ethnic cleansing, murder, wars, divorces, …etc, a spiritual distress overwhelms us. Similar distress overwhelmed Nehemiah when he heard the report about the ruined City of Jerusalem. Such distress, allows God’s grace to operate through our lives. God prepares us for Higher purposes and Greater service.
12. Darkness of Disease
Disease is another darkness that bothers humanity. There are contagious diseases that play havoc in some geographical area. With progress in medical field, these have been reduced. But, chronic life style diseases have overwhelmed the whole world. Diabetics, Hypertension, heart problems…etc have affected many young and old. Fight against cancer seems to be unending fight. AIDS another epidemic is also threatening humanity. It is enlightening to know how Paul learnt to handle his own physical weakness: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (II Cor 12:9) In the darkness of disease, God’s grace is available that is sufficient, supplement and complement. In and through our weakness, God’s power is manifested.
Conclusion and Challenge
In the life journey, there would be tunnels of darkness. In those tunnels, let us not create our own lights to see, what is the future. Instead let us learn to pray and ask the Lord to send the light so that we could see light as Psalmist sang: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” (Psalms 36:9)