A Dark Night of the Soul

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Right now, as I’m writing this, there are hundreds of thousands of people praying; by the time you finish reading this, a number of them will already have been answered. Jesus has heard them, taken them to the Father, and pleaded on their behalf. The little seminary in Jinja, Uganda is filling with students seeking the promises of Jesus Christ. There is a small village in China at this very moment experiencing unimaginable movement by the Holy Spirit. Believers in Australia, Norway, Italy, France, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Germany, India, Ireland, USA, Canada, Iceland, Norwich, Sweden, and many more countries all over the world are experiencing supplication with the very Author of creation. Some of them are experiencing tragic loss, miraculous healing, restoration, spiritual desolation, and true revival. The Holy Spirit is penetrating prison walls, family quarters, concentration camps, bars, sex clubs, drug slums, and back alleys. He is cross-culturalizing and filling in the gaps. No power is greater. He is unstoppable. God the creator is getting glory, as I type, and continues as you read this. He will continue to get the glory for eon’s after this fragment is written and forgotten. The very God who created every single person that has ever lived, the very God who breathed the universe into existence, the very God who walked alongside Abraham, is at work today. He’s everywhere. No matter what the world says, God is most assuredly on the move. He is not dead.

When my wife and I moved to New Orleans, I was expecting something miraculous to take place inside me. I was expecting God to grace me with His grand presence by immersing myself into seminary life. What I didn’t expect was a dark night of the soul. For those of you who have never heard this term, I will elaborate. St John of the Cross wrote a poem in 1577 entitled “Dark Night,” describing the soul’s journey into supplication with God. Although some claim “Dark Night” reflects the meaning of the phrase “Dark Night Of The Soul,” this isn’t the case. The phrase has been used by the Roman Catholic church to reflect a time period of spiritual desolation in which you do not feel or hear God’s presence in your life. A 19th century French Carmelite, St. Therese of Lisieux, confessed her own experience to her fellow nuns, “If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into.” In the 18th century, St. Paul of the cross experienced this for 45 years, until he finally recovered. Mother Teresa of Calcutta has had the most extensive case, lasting from 1948 up until her death in 1997, with brief interludes. One of America’s most beloved Pastor/ Evangelists, Charles Spurgeon, spent a large part of his ministry experiencing this. Sometimes it was so great that it left him bedridden.

When we look at the Bible and what it says about these dark nights or spiritual valleys, we get a clear picture of just what God is trying to tell us. It is a reoccurring theme that rings out. Many of our fathers in the Bible experienced this spiritual desolation: Elijah, David, Job, and Joseph, just to name a few. In the second chapter of Job, his wife told him to curse God and die. Then, he responded to her by rhetorically asking her whether or not we should accept only the good things of God and not the adversity. The author writes that Job upheld his integrity (Job 2:9-10). David writes of his valley in Psalm. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). In 1 Kings 19, Elijah felt such depression that he asked God to take his life. Joseph expressed to his brothers that God had allowed the things in his life to happen for a good reason (Genesis 50).

Even Jesus experienced the dark night that all of us go through, and He had never even sinned. Matthew 27:46 says, “’and about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” Jesus was actually quoting Psalm 22:1. Jesus did not say this because God had abandoned Him. God cannot abandon Himself but rather He said this to fulfill the prophesy of Psalm 22,  which was a prophesy to Jesus’ type of death.

God never leaves us. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Though I am experiencing a great “dark night of the soul,” God has not forsaken me; He never will. This is a biblical promise for all who love and obey Him. I may not feel God’s presence in my life right now, but I can still see it all around me. God is still here, even if I can’t see him. If travailing towards the cross means trudging through the valley, then I press on in faith that one day I will see my resurrected King.

—Joshua

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