The Dark Night of the Soul

I know there are a lot of people in our church who are going through difficulties.  Truth is there is probably pain in every pew.  In his writings, St John of the Cross, coined the phrase the “Dark Night of the Soul.

“There comes to all souls, at least once in life, a severe test.  It is known as the Dark Night of the Soul. It is when we are beleaguered by darkness: spiritual and mental and where no hope seems to be near and everything we try to do is thwarted. It is where the soul is forced to persist and enter into the glorious Golden Dawn of Illumination and kinship with God, or relax into the dull slumber of a mediocre physical existence.  You cannot avoid it.  If this test hasn’t already come in your life — it will. How will you deal with it is as important as life itself.

St. John continues…

“…He takes us into the dark night. He weans us from all the pleasures by giving us dry times and inward darkness. In doing so, He is able to take away all these vices and create virtues within us. Through the dark night pride becomes humility, greed becomes simplicity, wrath becomes contentment, luxury becomes peace, gluttony becomes moderation, envy becomes joy, and sloth becomes strength. No soul will ever grow deep in the spiritual life unless God works passively in that soul by means of the Dark Night.””
                               – The Dark Night of the Soul by 16th century St. John Cross

Jesus experienced His Dark Night of the Soul in the Garden of Gethsemane where he sweated as it were, “great drops of blood.”   Who could forget His scream of agony on the cross, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me.”  

Pain is a part of life.  Just read the Psalms.  One of the reasons I LOVE the Psalms is that it is filled with every kind of emotion a person can feel.   The book of Psalms has been called a TEMPLATE OF HUMAN EXPRESSION.  When Jesus said, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me,” he was quoting from Psalm 22.

Chuck Swindoll once said, “God rarely uses a person greatly who has not been hurt deeply.”

So what do we do when we find ourselves in the midst of a “Dark Night of the Soul?”  St. John of the Cross says that ultimately it’s God who takes us into the Dark Night.  So if it’s God who takes us into the Dark Night, we need to SEEK HIS FACE.  

It’s been said that hardship and difficulties can either makes us BETTER or BITTER.  Don’t let the Dark Night make you bitter.  Look to Him.  It’s been my experience that when God appears to be silent there is either (1) Some area that I need to surrender to Him or (2) He’s about to reveal/teach me something incredible.

I really believe we grow the most spiritually not when times are good, but when times are bad because we’re forced to look to God.   

I also believe that when times get tough we need to be VERY intentional about taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ and one of the best ways to do that is by reading, meditating, and memorizing the promises of God.   I’ll close this article with a few:

I Choose:

  • To Believe the Best and Not the Worse: I Cor 13:7
  • Optimism and Not Cynicism: Prov 4:8
  • Faith and Not Fear: I John 4:8
  • Love and Not Anger: Eph 5:22
  • Life and Not Death: John 10:10
  • Solutions and Not Problems: James 1:5

I Receive:

  • The Desires of My Heart: Psalm 37:4
  • A Future and a Hope: Jer 29:11
  • All Things Being Added to Me: Matt 6:33
  • All Thing I Need For Life and Godliness: 2 Peter 1:3
  • Every Good and Perfect Gift From Above: James 1:17
  • The Reward of Being a Diligent Seeker: Heb 11:6
  • I will meditate on these things and give my full attention to them so that my profiting (my growth in grace) may be evident to all. (I Tim 4:15)

Finally remember that the “Sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Shalom,

Bill

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