The Darkness Deepens

by Elizabeth


In church we sing

Lord reign in me, reign in your power, Over all my dreams, In my darkest hour.*

We proclaim our determination to say “Blessed be the name of the Lord” even

When the darkness closes in.*

And sometimes — though less often in the modern worship era in which we now live — we sing

The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.

I used to think phrases like these meant I could cling to God when everything around me was falling apart. I thought the darkness was outside me. I thought the prayer was for help in walking through human suffering.

Last year in my piano time, I happened anew upon the hymn Abide With Me. I was in a dark time, and it caused me to question my original understanding of this song’s meaning. I wondered if it’s not really talking about the darkness outside, but rather about the darkness inside.

Maybe it’s when the darkness rises within me that I need Him most. Maybe this hymn is a prayer for mercy when sin starts to overtake my heart. Perhaps it’s a plea for His abiding presence when my mind and heart wander from His light.

Abide with me, fast falls the even’tide.

The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.

When other helpers fail and comforts flee,

Help of the helpless, O, abide with me.


I need Thy presence every passing hour.

What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?

Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?

Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.


I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;

Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.

Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?

I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.


My mind can be a dark place. And when I’m in that dark place, I can take any Biblical truth or reality you might offer me, twist it, and spew it back at you with venom. I can fight each statement of truth with self-made lies.

Psalm 18:29 declares, “My God, you make my darkness bright.” Earlier this year I prayed, along with Common Prayer, “When I walk in darkness, Lord carry me through.” Perhaps those, too, are prayers for the darkness within, rather than the bleakness of my external circumstances.

Thankfully I’m not in a dark place now. I have been before, and I’m sure I will be again someday. When that happens, when the darkness closes in, when the darkness deepens, may I search deep within the pockets of my memory and remind myself that I triumph still, if He abides with me. When I pass through dim, cloudy days, when I feel helpless to fight the lies within, when I stumble along in a darkness of my own creation, may I call out for the Lord and beg Him to Abide.


*Lyrics from the songs Lord Reign in Me by Brenton Brown,

Blessed Be the Name of the Lord by Matt Redman,

and Abide With Me, by Henry F. Lyte, respectively.

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