The following night the Lord stood by him…

Acts 23:11

His life was in mortal danger. His efforts to give a witness to his fellow countrymen had ended unsuccessfully. Paul had every reason to be discouraged and though the scripture does not state it, we would not be surprised to learn that he was going through some of the darkest moments of his life.

But in that darkness the Lord came alongside of him. It was a mystical experience, and the impression is given by the wording that it was another Damascus Road type experience for Paul, another post resurrection experience of Christ. But if not, if I misread this passage, then the experience with the Spirit of Christ was so deep and real that it was as if the Lord Himself was standing there.

No believer ever goes through a dark night alone. If it feels as though the darkness envelops us, we should be encouraged by the knowledge that there is One who is greater than any darkness, to whom darkness and light are alike. When we are groping with our doubts and concerns, He is standing beside us in the bright presence of light. We need merely to open our hearts up to Him, to turn to Him in faith, and we will find that His presence creates hope in our hearts.

And all that we become in Him, we become because His Spirit transforms us into Him image – His character becomes our character. So we also as His people stand alongside of one another, lifting up the downtrodden, encouraging the discouraged, comforting the bereaved, giving hope to the hopeless.

A secret to constantly growing in Christ is to know Him in our times of darkness. Even there we can experience growth. Like the rings of a tree that show its age – combining the quick growth of summer with the slow and solidifying growth of winter – the dark times call us to experience the solidifying growth of the Spirit. If you can feel His presence in the darkness, nothing can prevent you from becoming who Christ has planned for you to become in Him.

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