Dark Night of the Soul
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

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Psalm 145:18  The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 

            When I learned to ride a bicycle my dad would hold me upright while I peddled.  My little legs would finally have enough confidence to push on those peddles because I knew my dad would not let go.  But all of a sudden, I did not feel his loving hands on my back.  I sensed he had indeed let go and I was on my own.  Like Peter taking his eyes of the Lord and began to sink, so too, did I began to stop my peddling and my balance began to wobble.  But just about the time I knew I was destined for the gravel road below, the hands returned.  Even though I felt a million miles from his safety, my dad was never far away.

 

            Sometimes that is the way we feel in our relationship with God.  Our lives are in unchartered territory.  We feel all alone, and for reasons we don’t understand, God seems a million miles away.  Saint John of Chrysostrum called this the “dark night of the soul.”  No one is exempt from these times.  Blackness surrounds us and no matter how hard we pray, we can’t seem to find comfort in God’s loving arms.  Certainly the Psalms are filled with devout writers experiencing this darkness.  “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)  And this cry is repeated many times throughout.  Why does it seem there are times when God is simply not around, and what are we to do in those times?

 

            I personally have been through many of these dark nights.  And I dread them, I hate being in them, and when I am in the midst of them they seem almost interminable.  They are one of the most unpleasant parts of life.  Yet, I have found that at the end of each of these periods, something remarkable happens.  God reveals Himself to me in ways I have not yet experienced.

 

            During the dark nights, we must rest in the comfort that God is near.  That is a promise.  He is near to all who call upon Him.  The promise does not say He will reveal Himself at our command, but that He is near.  Like my dad when I was learning to ride the bike, He was near, but his hands were no longer on me.  And there was a good reason.  I could have never learned to ride, if my dad had never let go.  The same is true in our spiritual lives.  When we don’t feel the presences of God, He is very near, but He wants us to go through something that will help us learn, grow, and strengthen our faith. 

 

            Like a child learning to ride the bike, when the hands are removed they must keep peddling. So too when we don’t feel the hand of God, we must continue to call on Him, pray, study, meditate, even cry out for His presence.  But we must never stop.  He is near, He won’t let us go.  We are safe, but we must keep peddling.  And when we do, we will emerge the other side of the darkness, and there we will find Him.  His face will be shining down upon us and the love will be beaming from His eyes.  For you see, He was always near, but His hand was off for a moment that He might teach us some new thing.

 

            The glory of the “dark night of the soul” is that we can trust in God and His promise.  And when these nights occur, if we use those times to “peddle harder” – pray more intensely, studying more diligently, and trust more completely, we will emerge from the dark deeper and more faithful to our God and a blessing to those around us.  


Kingdom Road Ministries
PO Box 503
10 South Main, Suite 201
Victor, ID 83455
903-262-5088
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