I Felt the Darkness

It was Thursday.  It was also a day of darkness; a horror of darkness.  I had come back into the hospital because the wound from a recent surgery was not healing.  The initial biopsy report looked good.  But there was the final report looming at any time.  That Thursday I had a great sense of foreboding.  I also had a hard time even meditating on Scripture.  I couldn’t get verses into my mind to think about.  Throughout the day, wave after wave of unsettledness washed over me.  My wife prayed for me.  She quoted Bible passages.  Still, I felt something of what

Abram had felt after the Lord had counted his faith for righteousness but showed him dark days of his people’s future.

Abram had made the sacrifice God told him to make; a heifer, a female goat, a ram, a turtledove and a pigeon.  He divided them and laid them on the altar.  Then the birds of the air came down and he had to chase them away.  Be sure that when you make your offering to God malevolent forces will swoop down to corrupt the sacrifice.  You must chase them away.  Jesus told us that a major danger for His followers would be the thorns that choke out the word; the cares of life, the deceitfulness of riches, the lust of other things.  We must keep a constant vigil lest they take up all of the room and leave none for the Word of God.  Like the fowls of the air they will defile and diminish God’s word.

You would think that after keeping away the birds Abram would have been rewarded by some kind of blessing.  Instead, as daylight waned, “a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him” (Gen. 15:12). Darkness is not pleasant.  It has a sense of the unearthly about it.  There is an oppression of darkness that is difficult to shake.  That is what I felt as the report from the doctor continued to be delayed.  In that darkness I sensed that the report would not be good.  I prayed. I asked the Lord for grace to face whatever was in the future.  It is easy to preach about glorifying God by life or by death, but I struggled to pray those words.  Eventually, I was able to pray that for myself.

Friday evening the doctor came with the report.  Yes, there were microscopic cancer cells in the biopsies.  The news seemed neither new nor shocking.  During Thursday I was prepared for that possibility.  It seemed that the horror of darkness can have a positive side.  Did God warn me ahead of time about what the report would reveal?  It seemed likely.  The possibilities were outlined by the doctor, none of which were pleasant.

The next several days were days of recovery.  While there, we continued to pray and find Bible verses that were helpful.  Yet there was an undercurrent of unsettledness.  The darkness was lurking, but not as horrible as it had been on that Thursday. Monday I was discharged and we went home.  There is something welcoming about going home.  It has a good feeling to it.  Yet the angst continued, though buried under the activities of getting resettled.  It was like the night just after sunset.

Tuesday I was at home alone with a low grade headache.  I leaned back and began to meditate on God’s promises.  “Therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  A phrase from a gospel song kept going through my mind.  “Justified fully through Calvary’s love, Oh what a standing is mine!”  Justified.  Fully.  Somehow the wonder of the gospel took on a renewed and sacred meaning.  And in that moment the horror of darkness was dispelled.  From deep inside a fountain flowed with peace and assurance and light.  That’s when I went back to the account of Abram and his horror of darkness.

“And when the sun went down and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.”  In the dark, God revealed Himself to Abram.  Imagine the contrast.  After his horror, when night had fallen, he saw a revelation of God.  God was confirming His covenant with Abram.  God’s promises are sure.  There in the dark was a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passing through the sacrifice that Abram had placed earlier on the altar.  He had kept the fowls from defiling them.  He had passed through the horror of darkness.  Night had fallen.  But now he was witnessing the revelation of the God of creation.  God revealed Himself as the One who keeps His covenant.  He would perform what He promised.

As I read that account my heart leaped with joy and gratitude to the Lord who has given us “great and precious promises.”  Another phrase of a hymn captured my meditations.  “Beyond the sacred page, I seek thee Lord…”  Yes we need the Bible.  Yes it is the written word.  But Jesus is more than paper and ink.  He is the living word.  It is in Him that we have hope and comfort and peace.  Beyond the words on a page of the Bible is the Lord Himself.  He has given us His wonderful assurance that “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee!”

God told Abram that there would be some bad years ahead for the generations that followed him.  Yet, for him there was comfort.  “And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.”  Abram would yet have time to continue to serve the Lord.  I was not sure how to process what I was reading. Pastor Loper often calls me “Ainch” – short for Ancient.  At seventy, King David died “in a good old age.” I’m not there yet but it is not far down the road.  How that particular aspect of this story plays out is in the hands of the Lord who “loved me and gave himself for me.”  In the meantime there is the Lord and His divine presence and help.

The horror of darkness is not pleasant.  Yet it can be helpful.  It can turn us to seeking.  It can help us to realize the importance of keeping the sacrifice undefiled on the altar. And when the night falls and there is nothing we can see, then the “smoking furnace and the burning lamp” opens our eyes to our Lord  Jesus whose faithfulness is great, whose peace is past understanding, and whose love draws us with cords to bind us to the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the altar of the cross.  There we are safe.  There we have confidence. There we have hope. I have found it so.


  1. Reply
    Faith Tofte says

    Thank you, Dr. Gordeuk.

  2. Reply
    Sandra Miller says

    As I read this tears came, I have always appreciated your ministry and this has proven that you are what you preach. I so appreciated what you said about Jesus being more than words on a page. I was reading Tozer and he had a chapter on that. You are a wonderful blessing to me. Thank you for your faithfulness!!

  3. Reply
    Penny Austin says

    Enjoyed reading this today, was such a blessing of God’s faithfulness through dark times. Thanks so much, blessings on you as you take one day at a time. Appreciate what you do for Him.

  4. Reply
    Judy McIntosh says

    Gene and I just read this. So very good. I had to chuckle about King David dying at old age of 70. That doesn’t seem very old. God bless you. We love you and are praying for you.

  5. Reply
    Dena Weber says

    Thank You Pastor Dave. We sure miss your wonderful God-ordained sermons on Sundays. Wish we could gather around you and pray together. I too appreciate the mention that Jesus is more than words on a page. God Bless you and just wrap His arms around you.

  6. Reply
    Ken Willard says

    Dave, it is a certainty that the work God planned in advance for you to do is not yet finished. This message on God’s promises in the midst of the horror of darkness is evidence of that fact. It is so timely and relevant and a blessing to more people than you can imagine. I am thanking for sustaining you and giving you clear insight into the faithfulness and reality of Jesus beyond the pages of scripture!

  7. Reply
    MarJoe Wooten says

    Duane Maxey calls that an “angel of Light temptation”. He sent a similar post in his email this morning. Surely darkness is not pleasant, but God….!

  8. Reply
    Vicki Clifton says

    Dr. Gordeuk….words can not express the help this article is. We, Paul and I, were privilege to be with you on the London 12 mission trip, first week. I have went through cancer also. Satan has fought and still is fighting. I think about those books all the time. And the people, and the tribulation and the hope…I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to go and serve and met you along with a host of other great people. Thank you again for sharing that we are not alone in the darkness and that God is there.

  9. Reply
    Della Dolan says

    This is well said and is very encouraging. It brings back a lot memories when I was diagnosed w cancer and had three growing children and wondered what they were going to do if it was Gods plan for me to go to heaven and leave them. I can remember some of this same feeling of darkness and also joy when God revealed his presence to me and assurance that he is in control. God has been so good to me and I cannot believe it has been twenty yrs. I also had a feeling or whatever one may call it that I had cancer before I was diagnosed. I truely believe God was preparing me at that time for what I was going to face with my health issues. Thru it all He is there. I rember I would pray God my health is n ur hands and sometimes I prayed it moment by moment. He showed me what path to take for my tx and I don’t ever want to forget how much God was there for me. I praise him for His love mercy and personal guidance that he gave me during that time. Reading Dr Gordeuk beautiful story proves we have a big wonderful God. Thanks so much for sharing We truely appreciate you and your whole family and pray for Gods strength for your whole family.

  10. Reply
    Gloria Patterson says

    Thank you for your message that reveals your honesty and God’s promises. I especially liked the part where you put that Jesus is more than paper and ink. He is the living word. Your sermons have been very beneficial to me in the past with my spiritual walk and will continue to guide me to a close relationship with the Lord. God bless you dear friend! I will pass on your story to the Wolfhunter!!!

  11. Reply
    Joan Doskocil says

    Dear Pastor Dave, We have never met, but our small group which meets on Sunday evenings at 6pm of which Ken and Deanna are members have been praying for you. Ken tells us about your cancer and how it has just about taken away all of your skills for preaching the gospel. God bless you and may God touch your body and bring healing. You are one of His children.

  12. Reply
    Carla Case says

    Powerful!! I appreciate you and your wife. In the midst of deep trials I have seen nothing but a genuine dependence on God and a faith and love for each other that is the real deal.

  13. Reply
    Jeff Starnes says

    Very inspiring Pastor Dave!

    Praying for you,

    “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13

    Christ IS Lord,

  14. Reply
    Karen mills says

    Thank you for this blog. I don’t know if you remember or not but we talk at IHC Convention. You told me about this particular blog “I felt the darkness” it was not until today that I had time to read it. I now know why I didn’t read it till today… I did not need it back then at IHC time but needed it desperately today. Thank you for sharing your heart and being real about your walk with God.

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