Soul Food for Friday: God and Life in the “Dark Night” of the Soul

While working on an upcoming series, “If You Could Ask God One Question” I have been digging into this question, “Why is there so much suffering?” I’m glad God’s Word is in charge of the answer to that one then me, and that I have another week to wrestle with Him for the answer.

The soul food quote this week comes from one of the church fathers, Saint John of the Cross, who wrote of God and the dark night of the soul. Saint John of the Cross wrote this about God and suffering: “He takes us into a dark night. He weans us from all pleasures by giving us dry time 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.”

Who wouldn’t want the end result? It’s the path through the darkness, through the pain that’s challenging.

Here comes the Saint John of the Cross challenge, some heavy soul food for building faith muscle: “No soul will ever grow deep in the spiritual life unless God works passively in that soul by means of the Dark Night.”

Job : A Man Of Heroic Endurance by Charles R. Swindoll (Paperback - Thomas Nelson Inc)

Thanks to Chuck Swindoll’s book on Job (p. 194-195) for the words from Saint John of the Cross. Thanks even more to God who doesn’t leave us in the dark night even when we feel that He has.

As God would have it, while working on this message, my daily bible reading time is in the book of Job. I hate to say it, but Job does not make my top books of the Bible to read. But over the years it has moved up off the bottom. I am told that people who have faced tragedy, who are going through their own dark night of the soul, list Job as their favorite book of the Bible. More than “misery loves company”, there is an appreciation of Job’s brutal honesty in his pain. James will later write in the New Testament of the patience of Job, but I don’t see it in the book.

I see a full blown “dark night of the soul”. It’s pitch black, and no one is bringing light. Not Job. Not his wife. Not his friends. Only God. Job keeps asking why, but God never answers, not even at the end when God speaks.

What does amaze me is that Job does hold on to God, honestly, hopefully, and at times helplessly. Dark nights of the soul lead me to lean more into God and His grace. When I don’t know what He’s up to, I trust that He does and will find a way through. Job encourages me as well as Saint John of the Cross not to let go.

So what has been your experience with the Dark Night of the Soul, and what lessons has God been teaching you?



Filed under Leadership Quotes

2 responses to “Soul Food for Friday: God and Life in the “Dark Night” of the Soul

  1. In screenwriting, the “dark night of the soul” is the end of Act 2, the moment when all hope seems lost, that is, if the movie ends happily. If the movie ends tragically, however, the end of Act 2 is a joyful experience. (Act 2 ends with an emotional experience that’s the opposite of the ending to create a greater contrast.) So if you’re in a movie; and you want to live happily ever after, you need to endure the “dark night of the soul” before Act 3.

  2. “Dark night of the soul” describes well my response to a friend’s critique (note that’s not criticism but an appraisal of my first chapter of a book). She wrote her initial critique and we were scheduled to talk via phone two days afterwards. The first night I quit the writing journey every waking moment (which was a lot more minutes/hours than usual). But the dark night led into a determined day. I determined to work at the craft and get better. My sloth truly became my strength through that first dark night.

    Good Friday read. Thanks, Richard.–Tom

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