The Same in the Dark

When my son was younger, I would tuck him into bed. I remember the scene well: the fan on for white noise, the overhead light switched to off, the lamp on his dresser turned low. To warm the cold sheets, I would scrunch my hands over the blankets creating warmth by friction. We’d say our prayers, as I scratched his back and tousled his hair. Sometimes this would be enough, but frequently this was the moment when fearful fretting began.

“What if there’s something in my closet? What if there’s something under my bed? What is that over there? What if I can’t fall asleep?”

Often I’d sigh a little too heavily, annoyed that his anxiety and fear were bombarding my downtime. I was ready to punch out of parenting for the day, but instead, I’d sit on the edge of his bed and stroke his hair.

“Buddy, everything is the same in the dark as it is in the light. You know your room—you looked at it before I shut off the light. Nothing has changed. Even though you can’t see it, all is still the same.”

Sometimes I would stay near until he fell asleep. Sometimes I would leave, praying the words comforted him enough to allow him to relinquish to rest.

As I closed the door, I’d choke up and bite my lower lip. I hoped he was absorbing the greater message—this was not just about his room being safe for sleep.


Bedtime is not the only darkness our children will face. There will be suffering, trials, and doubt—moments that require eyes of faith to move them through the dark. As they age, concerns and worries creep up. Challenges emerge with siblings and friends. Struggles come with schoolwork and sports. And this is just the beginning.

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We need them to know that God is the same no matter the circumstances.[1] We can be in the darkness of trials and suffering and doubts, or we can be in the brightness of happiness and ease and closeness to God—but no matter where we are, God is good. And kind. And loving. And enough.

As adults, darkness rarely phases us as we fall asleep, yet the dark times persist. Maybe our darkness is depression. Maybe it’s doubt. Maybe we have difficulties in our marriage or with our children. Maybe it’s an illness or a job loss. At some point, all of us will find ourselves afraid of the dark. Amidst our struggles, what we believe about God will be on display for our children to see. How we handle the dark times matters not just for our sake, but also theirs.

In those moments of fearing the dark, as we humble ourselves as children, God bends his ear to our cries of fear.[2] In our dependence, he’ll comfort us without the heavy sighing, and he’ll remind us that “the darkness is not dark to [God]; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with [him].” [3]

He pierces the darkness with his pierced hands.

When our worlds shift into trials and suffering, we need to remember our experience of God in the light. We recount God’s goodness and rehearse his faithfulness. When we are faithful in times of light—the mountaintop moments and promised land arrivals—we learn truths about God that guide us through the times of darkness. Faith will lead us through, “for we walk by faith, not by sight”. [4]

As we walk in faith, we’ll find ourselves growing closer to Him even in the dark. Our eyes adjust to see that there’s light and grace and goodness even in the darkest of times. Like a child who discovers treasures in the dark — shadow puppets, star-filled skies, glow sticks, fireworks — we find glimmers of goodness in the places we most fear. We grow more mature, the way a child grows out of his or her fear of the dark, and our children bear witness to us growing in faithfulness as we see God being faithful.

In the dark, we discover a light source that never dwindles. God is the light, the only light we really need; and with that knowledge, we face the dark with the same confidence and hope as we face the light. With God as our guide, everything is the same in the dark as it is in the light.


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Denise is an author, writer, mother, and photographer who lives in Maine with her husband and two boys. You can find her book, Cling: Faith Lessons from my Son’s Early Years on Amazon, and you can find more of her writing online at www.deniselilly.com.


[1] Heb. 13:8

[2] Ps. 116:2

[3] Ps. 139:12 ESV

[4] 2 Cor. 5:7 ESV