During the dark, seemingly empty moments of my life—moments, too, when I can’ t make heads or tails of my situation– I remember the time when the whole universe was dark and in chaos. Genesis 1:1-2 states: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
It was the perfect setup for the God of the Universe to do something strange and marvelous. In some versions of the Bible, the word “brood” is used. Imagine this: when the whole universe was dark and empty, God was present. He was moving over formlessness; brooding over the chaotic waters.
See the following translations for a picturesque understanding:
The Living Bible:
When God began creating the heavens and the earth, the earth was a shapeless, chaotic mass, with the Spirit of God brooding over the dark vapors.
The Message Version
First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.
To brood means to hatch; to conceive; to plan. God was planning something. He wasn’t going to leave everything black and in darkness. In fact, He was about to do something that would challenge the very existence of “nothing” and “confusion” and “emptiness.” He was going to bring forth life.
His first command: “Let there be light.”
Suddenly, the universe wasn’t dark anymore. Suddenly, something new, bewildering, and exciting was taking place.
Wasn’t that command comforting? And doesn’t that command echo beyond the epochs of time, right down the tunnels of our own 21st century days? Whenever it is dark and empty and chaotic in our lives, God is already present, moving over the confusion, ready to command light.
One of Jesus’ names is “Light of the world” (see John 8:12). When God gave His first command, “Let there be light,” it was as if He was declaring the presence and reality of Jesus into the situation of darkness.
The same thing happens in our own difficult and dark moments. The one thing—or rather, the one Being— that switches situations in our lives from dark to light is the presence of Jesus, Light Himself.
I love that Jeremiah 29:11 says this: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
It is the character of God to want the best for us. It is His character to give us hope. It is His character to be kind. He gives us a future, prompting us to dream again. We may ask, “Is the darkness necessary to precede life?” It seems to be a pattern for dawn to break right after the darkest hours of night. We may find the process bewildering, but we can trust the God who made the world to lead us faithfully and lovingly.
God always looks at our situations from a viewpoint of His triumph and victory. He isn’t worried. He has the final say. When all we see is darkness, what He sees is the start of something beautiful and new in our lives. He knows it is beautiful because of one crucial “bit” of reality: He– the God who broods over waters– is in it.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.