The Dark Night of the Soul…

light of dayI was thinking about the expression, ‘the dark night of the soul’ and what that means in terms of living your life when facing serious challenges and difficulties. Surprisingly, the expression cannot be found in the Bible but was attributed to a spiritual philosopher named John of the Cross who penned a poem by the same name. It is meant to describe a feeling of lack of purpose, the absence of God and the accompanying spiritual dryness that follows. Many people, if not all people seem to go through a time of spiritual crisis when confronted with the deeper problems of life, questions regarding their own existence or a deep sense of something missing in their life. It is the natural end result of living life without a firm spiritual foundation. People are often blown about with every wind of doctrine and find themselves seeking purpose in various causes that while helpful, do not provide a sense of fulfillment in their lives. There are so many activities that occupy our time, but few that provide the spiritual nurture and sustenance we may unknowingly need in order to flourish. Do you find yourself facing the dark night of the soul? Does your life seem absent any real purpose? Are you stuck in a dry solitary place where there is no enjoyment, no hope for the future?

I have to start by saying spiritual leaders and philosophers often seem to have trouble distinguishing what comes from the hand of God and what originates with dark spiritual forces. It’s as if to them there is no real separation between what is good and what is evil. Both are globbed together into one lump with a failure to discern each component part. And what is left is something unusable, transitory and fickle. You cannot make sense of life if all things come from the hand of God and you will be forever left with unanswered questions and dilemmas that have no end point. The dark night of the soul is thus referred to as a period of cleansing, purifying and trial by God in order to produce some spiritually significant change for the better, further implying that God at times does evil in order to secure a better good. Yet this contradicts the Bible, namely that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. God does not ever use evil to promote good, but instead works to produce good in the midst of the evil. We overcome evil with good. The dark night of the soul however, is something we all experience at times and it often lasts much longer than just one night. The emptiness, the misery, the spiritual stagnation and dryness comes from the influences of evil in our lives. It comes from the acceptance of doctrines and commandments that are not true. It comes via the dark influences of the world ever plotting and scheming to replace good with bad, happiness with pain, logic with illogic and truth with error. We all find ourselves faced with troubling circumstances at times. We all run out of solutions with our senses, natural reasoning. We all will come up short in one capacity or another. We all will find ourselves confronted with what we actually control and all that we cannot control. All of us. The key involved is in knowing where to find the help we need.

The dark night of the soul, while horrible, does sometimes lead us to humbling ourselves in order to finally learn more. It wakes us from our lethargy and as Emerson aptly noted, “Whilst he sits on the cushion of advantages, he goes to sleep. When he is pushed, tormented, defeated, he has a chance to learn something; he has been put on his wits, on his manhood; he has gained facts; learns his ignorance; is cured of the insanity of conceit; has got moderation and real skill.” When people are challenged out of their comfortable ignorance they have a chance to learn something. There is nothing quite like a severe trial or arduous circumstances to make a man or a woman reach upwards. Again God is not the originator of the trial, but works within the trial to illuminate and having illuminated, rescue. There is an answer of light in the midst of any dark night if we are willing to seek it. Evil works by chipping away at the structure until the whole building crumbles. When the building crumbles there is desperation that follows, but the solution could have been found in discerning what was being chipped away. Unhappiness and discontent are obvious but if left alone to fester lead to ruin. You avoid the dark night of the soul by determining within yourself to live the day and the day only. Refuse to accept that negative feelings and circumstances are “just the way it is” and instead take on each scenario as it presents itself to you. You have both the time and the resources sufficient for the day. You take on the challenges that confront you by learning the truth concerning those challenges. You find the light that illuminates the darkness. Do not live in darkness or postpone that darkness for another day. Take it on while it is today. Obviously some solutions will require more time to resolve, but you can still immerse your mind in the light and the power that strengthens you sufficient to win the day. The threat of what will happen tomorrow is not yours to handle today. Take on tomorrow tomorrow. God never intended for His precious creation to try and live in moments that are not right now. The dreads concerning our past failures and the dreads concerning our future troubles are both illusions as both past and future do not currently exist except within the confines of our own minds. The darkness of a day gains strength by adding to it the darkness of yesterdays and tomorrows.  “Take therefore no (anxious) thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34) Live the day. Master the day.

If you have been having a tough time or feel as if you are facing an insurmountable obstacle, know this, there is always a solution with God. There is nothing you are facing that isn’t common to man and God will with the temptation (to be afraid) provide a way to escape that you may be able to bear it. All of us started our life journey without God and without hope. All of us have faced despair and questioned the reason for our existence. All of us have felt there must be more to life than just trying to acquire things, living for seventy, eighty or ninety years than dying as the end of it all. All of us have experienced the spiritual drought of ignorance regarding divine realities. All of us. But, while we have life and breath it is our duty to find the God that made us and in finding Him find the solution to everything that ever plagued us or caused us pain. Evil is never a match for God no matter how austere our circumstances or conditions. At the end of the day, evil is always a lie counting on us to try and live life on our own absent God’s help and guidance. You can put an end to the dark night of the soul by being illuminated by the truth; by being healed by the truth; by being rescued by the truth; by being set free by the truth. We all must endure periods of suffering and pain at times, but not for very long if we get our God involved. He is the answer you have been searching for throughout your entire life and will come through for you if you allow it. It’s not a question of your own ability or goodness or piety, but rather a decision you make to believe Him regardless of what appears to be. The dark night of the soul is just an illusion exposed by the true light of God’s Word. I love you.

Just some good thoughts…


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