Through The Darkness (Students)

Recently we did a series titled “Through The Darkness”. Darkness can mean anything from a difficult time at school, with friends and even the loss of a loved one. The series was broken into three sections which you will see below. 
 
  1. Three Days of Devotions to pull YOU through the darkness
  2. Three Days of Prayers to help you pull your FRIENDS through the darkness
  3. Two Verses to memorize to prepare yourself for the next time you go through the darkness.
 

Section 1

Day 1

 
I grew up believing that if I followed Jesus and did what was right, God would just take care of everything. Life would be perfect. That sounds nice, but the Bible actually tells story after story of people who loved and obeyed God, and things

didn’t

work out. Take Jesus, for example. The evening before He was crucified, Jesus went out late at night to pray with His closest friends. He had so much grief that He was literally sweating drops of blood. He told His friends:

 

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and

keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the

ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken

from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (

Matthew 26:38b-39 NIV,

emphasis added).

 

Jesus admits the reality of His pain. He doesn’t pretend everything is okay. He was on the verge of being beaten and murdered on a cross. But He faced His pain squarely, out loud, directly, and honestly. He was aware that God

could deliver him, but that He might not. And He modeled what it means to honor God when life falls apart. His feelings changed—His emotions changed—but His view of God, His faith, didn’t. But ultimately Jesus says something important. “Abba [which literally means “Daddy” in Hebrew], if I don’t have to go through with this, I don’t want to—but if I have to, Your will be done.” Jesus offers two words that can change our perspective. YET NOT. “My Father, I’d prefer not to have to go through this. Yet not my will—not what I want—but what YOU want.” Most of us would say it this way, “God I want things to go according to my script. I want it to be the way I want it to be. I’m even going to ask You

to do it that way—YET NOT my way, but Your way. I’m still going to trust You if even if You do things differently

than I would like them to. Pray. Ask God to strengthen your faith, to trust who God is even when your circumstances challenge what you think.

 

Day 2

Roller coasters are an amazing invention. Have you ever ridden one? If so, do you love them? Or does it make your stomach queasy just thinking about them? What makes a roller coaster so breathtaking is the ups and downs. If they just went really fast in a straight line, they wouldn’t be nearly as fun, would they? People wouldn’t ride them nearly as much. Sometimes life feels like a roller coaster—minus the laughing and fun screaming. There are ups: good times when we feel like we’re on top of the world. And there are downs: moments when it feels like you’re at the bottom of the barrel. Some of you, if you were honest, would say, “Yeah, the roller coaster of life is definitely at the bottom for me right now. I think it just did two

upside-down loops real fast, but I’m not sure. Life feels completely out of control.” Things aren’t working out the way you hoped, and your heart feels heavy. There’s a book in the Old Testament called

Psalms. Most of it was written by a man named David, who was the king of an empire. But before he was a king, he was a shepherd. He starts the 23rd chapter of the book of Psalms by saying this: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-3 NIV). I love the imagery and the pictures those lines paint, but especially this one: He refreshes my soul. Another version of this verse says God restores

my soul. David is making the point that God is the refresher and restorer

—One who brings back and makes whole—of our souls (our hearts, emotions, and lives). If we could restore our own souls, then maybe the verse would say something like: “The Lord is our shepherd, but we are people who can pick ourselves up, get ourselves together, and put our lives back in a good place.”

But David understood something that’s sometimes hard for us to understand—that something amazing happens in our relationship with God when we allow

Him

to refresh and restore our souls. Sure, there are times when we could figure out our own way to fix things. We’re survivors and could probably figure out how to get by. But God doesn’t just want us to “get by.” He wants to pick us up, hold us, and give us new life. See, God doesn’t force us to need Him. He doesn’t force us to love Him. We could make it through life with all its ups and downs and survive. We could go from now until death, cope with all the tough stuff, and have accident life. People do it all the time. But unless we choose Him, we will miss out on walking with the One who created us.

 

Where does your life feel most “down” right now?

 

Pray some honest prayers. When you have some time today or tonight, get alone with God and say something like, “Hey, I may be capable and intelligent, but I need You. I need

You

to refresh me and restore me and guide me and help me.” And when you wake up tomorrow, try praying this prayer again. Keep turning back to Himand keep praying. He’s there and He’s ready to restore you.

 

Day 3

 

Has someone ever owed you money? Maybe you and a friend went to Taco Bell. Good news for you: cheesy gorditas. Bad news for them: no money. So you loaned them a couple of bucks. They promised to pay you back ASAP. But to this day, you’ve still never seen a trace of that cash. You even hinted around a couple of times. Nothing. You’re still friends, but from time to time—in the back of your mind—you think, “Man, it’s messed up that they never paid me back.” Some of you may feel that way about God. You feel like you were shortchanged. You do everything you’re supposed to do. You avoid

most

of the things you’re supposed to avoid. You go to church (sometimes twice a week). And now life is difficult. It hurts. It feels like it’s failing apart. And you’re thinking, “God, You owe me. Why have You never paid me back?” Sometimes it seems like following God should make us exempt from bad things happening—especially if we follow the rules. But Jesus Himself told his followers that the opposite is true.

 

“In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33 NIV).

 

Yeah. That just seems messed up. It’s

going

to happen. Jesus said it, which means it’s true. What’s your “trouble” right now? In the beginning, God created a perfect world. Human beings were without sin. And then two people you’ve probably heard of, Adam and Eve, went against what God wanted. Which is hard to believe, because why would you want to disobey someone who created a perfect world?

 

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death

through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all

sinned” (Romans 5:12 NIV) .

 

That

one man

was Adam. With his disobedience—his sin—the world became broken. Here comes jealousy, betrayal, violence, cancer, abuse, selfishness, hurting people with words, not taking care of people who need help, hurting ourselves, murder, and on and on the list goes. The effects are random and terrible. We blame God, but it’s a problem He didn’t create. He did, however, go to work to fix it:

Remember that “you will have trouble verse”? Well, that wasn’t the whole verse. In that verse Jesus continued:

 

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the

world” (John 16:33 NIV).

 

God sent Jesus. Jesus took a cross, the worst symbol of murder in human history, and turned it into a symbol of salvation. There are a lot of accounts of people who saw Him die, and then saw Him alive weeks later. He proved not only that He is God, but that He is

alive. He defeated death, and He provided a way for you and I to have a relationship with God. It’s a relationship that goes beyond this life. It goes into eternity. There is the promise of heaven when we die—and complete

wholeness and restoration when we get there. God is big. He’s even bigger than our pain. Spend some time praying that God will help you to “take heart.” And that He will show you how to truly find your hope in Him. Name one reason why God can be trusted, even when we are in pain:
 

Section 2 Prayers

 

Prayer 1

Think of someone who is going through a difficult time.
Write their name down:
Spend some time praying for him or her. This doesn’t have to be an
intimidating thing—just think about the things you would want for
this person in the middle of their difficult time. Ask God to help them
in their pain or uncertainty. Ask God to be close and that they would
feel like God is close. Ask God to help you understand what they
might be feeling and what you can do to help them.
What is one step you can take to help that person?
Write it down::

Prayer 2

Today, pray these three things for someone who is facing a painful or
difficult situation:
That they would feel loved
That they would feel supported
That they would find comfort in God
Afterward, if possible, let that person know that you just finished
praying those three things for him or her.
 

Prayer 3

Praying Scripture is powerful. If you’re struggling through a difficult
time right now, ask God to help you experience what King David—
the writer of this Psalm—experienced when he wrote this.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my
fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never
covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them
from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and
saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34:4-7, 17-18 NIV)
 

Section 3 Memory Verse

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
 

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