Treasures of darkness

One of the books on my bookshelves is a copy of the Encyclopedia of Needlework by Thérèse de Dillmont, a birthday gift, almost a century ago, from one of my great-grandmothers to another. It’s full of instructions for all sorts of needlework, from plain sewing and mending to openwork and gold embroidery. Some I have tried, some I haven’t. Pillow lace-making, for example, I can only admire!

Brussels lace, a type of pillow lace, is particularly delicate and beautiful. It was first made in the 15th century, and was expensive and highly prized, a gift fit for royalty.


What made it so special? Well, the quality of the thread, the method of construction, and the skill of the lace-makers certainly had something to do with it. But above all, perhaps, was the fact that each lace-maker worked alone in a room which was totally dark apart from a single ray of light from a high, north-facing window falling directly on the threads of the lace. The beautiful lace they produced was a treasure of darkness, you might say.

Sometimes the Lord leads His people by a dark path – heart-breaking bereavement perhaps, or sore disappointment or bewildering perplexity or some other sorrow that threatens to overwhelm us. We may not understand what is happening, we may not see or feel the Saviour’s presence with us (though He never really abandons His children), but if we trust our Guide – for He is faithful and knows exactly what He is doing – we will surely find that the work He has done in our lives during those dark times is of great beauty and could have been done in no other way. 

If you seem to be living in deep darkness because God is working in strange and mysterious ways, do not be afraid. Go forward in faith and love, never doubting Him. He is watching and will bring goodness and beauty from all your pain and tears.” J R Miller

I will give you the treasures of darkness. (Isaiah 45:3a)

Jesus said, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this. (John 13:7)

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly… let me learn by paradox

that the way down is the way up,

that to be low is to be high,

that the broken heart is the healed heart,

that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,

that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,

that to have nothing is to possess all,

that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,

that to give is to receive,

that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,

and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,

thy life in my death,

thy joy in my sorrow,

thy grace in my sin,

thy riches in my poverty,

thy glory in my valley.

From ‘The Valley of Vision’.


I will sing the wondrous story

Of the Christ who died for me;

How He left His home in glory

For the cross on Calvary.

I was lost: but Jesus found me,

Found the sheep that went astray;

Threw His loving arms around me,

Drew me back into His way.


I was bruised: but Jesus healed me –

Faint was I from many a fall;

Sight was gone, and fears possessed me:

But He freed me from them all.

Days of darkness still come o’er me;

Sorrow’s path I often tread;

But the Saviour still is with me,

By His hand I’m safely led.


He will keep me till the river

Rolls its waters at my feet:

Then He’ll bear me safely over,

Where the loved ones I shall meet.

Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story

Of the Christ who died for me;

Sing it with the saints in glory,

Gathered by the crystal sea.


Francis Harold Rawley