My father was a photographer in WWII and after he and my mother were married, he built a small photography business on the side. Nuptials and newborns were his venues of choice, but even at family functions, if my dad didn’t have a cigar in his hand, he was setting up his tripod. He’d position his Yashica Mat and adjust the lens. “Everyone, sit still and smile,” he’d yell as he rushed to his spot before the camera clicked.
We were taking selfies long before it was a thing.
Most of the photos my dad took never made it into albums. Shoe boxes stuffed with pictures he’d developed filled the credenza in our living room. I remember as a young girl I’d sit on the shag carpet (okay, I’m dating myself), dump out the contents of the boxes and scrounge through the remnants of family history. Today I’m thankful that I’m able to capture a reflection of my past. But my ability to see any of those snapshots is only because they first spent time in the darkroom.
Photographers know that in order to allow light sensitive materials time to process, they have to develop in the dark.
God knows that too.
His way of developing us is similar to the way a photographer processes film. It may seem like He’s not there, but God fashions beautiful things in the shadows.
He creates flowers in the darkness of soil.
A seed has to be planted in the dark in order to grow. It needs light as well, but first it needs darkness. If a seed never gets buried in the dirt, it’ll never sprout. In order for the glory of a flower to emerge it has to be taken out of the package, planted in soil, exposed to a dark place for a season and sometimes even covered with stinky manure. Soil, darkness, manure and light all work together to cause something beautiful to grow.
In our lives hardships and difficulties are like manure. They stink. But God takes a seed of purpose and plants it among difficulties because he wants to grow something beautiful in your life.
He creates life in the darkness of a mother’s womb.
What starts out as an almost invisible sperm grows for nine months in the pitch black and just before the baby is born, birthing pains push it into the light. (If you have birthed a baby, you know why contractions are called birthing pains.)
It’s in the midst of pain and the absence of light that glory springs forth. Glory comes from a Greek word, doxa, meaning splendor, brightness and majesty. A thing belonging to God. But the glory can’t shine until after the suffering. After the black—not before.
The concept of pain is one we all want to avoid, but in God’s kingdom, the dark places of suffering are the pathway to glory. I know this isn’t a popular topic, but here’s the truth. We all deal with issues. Which would you rather do?
Merely endure…merely tolerate? Suffer through it with nothing to show for it? Or when trials come your way, would you rather line yourself up with the word of God and declare:
I am more than an overcomer. Give me my trophy and put a crown on my head. I’ve fought the good fight and I’ve finished my race. I am not defeated. I may have been hard pressed on every side, but I’m not crushed. I may have been persecuted, but I’m not abandoned. I may have been struck, but I’m not struck down. If God be for me, who can be against me?
I’m not trying to declare difficulties over you. Paul already did that. Paul said we’d have troubles. But here’s how he said to handle them. He tells us not to be unsettled by our trials (1 Thessalonians 3:3). We were destined for them.
Destined for issues, hardships and difficulties?
God is up to something in the middle of our issues. That’s how He makes beautiful things.
It takes pain to push forth glory because God’s ways are different than ours. A bunch of doo-doo makes flowers beautiful. What makes us think we are any different? We aren’t immune to issues. But God uses our trials to make us stronger, God intends to use them to make us a beautiful fragrance of hope to the world.
Destiny and purpose is birthed in the darkness.
I learned a lot about this principle from my dad. When we moved to Oklahoma he built a darkroom in our garage. After he hung film to develop he shut the door so no light would sneak in. He knew exactly how long the film needed to develop and wouldn’t let anyone open the door while they were developing; otherwise, his beautiful photos would be underdeveloped.
The way God processes hope in us is similar to the way a photographer processes film. Both need darkness to develop.
In a similar way, you are God’s picture. When your world is dark, it may seem like He’s nowhere in sight, but He’s just on the other side of the door. He’s waiting. He knows exactly how long it will take for beauty and purpose to develop. And when the time is right, He’ll throw open the door and turn on the light. You and your story are His beautiful picture to display hope to a hurting world.
So when darkness surrounds you, don’t fret. God has purpose in mind and He is creating something beautiful in you! Let Him complete the work He began in you. Like a skilled photographer developing photos in the darkroom, God wants you to know…
what’s developed in the dark will shine in the light!
Questions to Ponder:
- How can the concept of a darkroom encourage you next time your own world seems black?
- If your life was on a roll of film, what format would it be in? Why?
- It’s still in the package
- It’s in the camera, waiting for a good photo op
- It never got developed. It’s still a negative.
- It’s out of focus or under developed
- It’s still processing in the darkroom
- It’s a beautiful picture displaying His glory
- Do you remember picture day in school? If you were absent or blinked, you got a retake. Do you think God allows retakes? Why or why not?
Father, I pray that when my sister’s world seems dark, that she would remember you are creating something beautiful in her life. I declare that bitterness, sorrow and despair would never take root. Instead she’d be full of joy in the midst of the wait and be reminded of Your faithfulness, keeping her eyes fixed on Your promises. In Jesus’ name. Amen.