The dark night of the spirit occurs
when the worst possible thing that we could imagine happens. Like Job
said, "The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me" (Job 3:25).
The dark night of the spirit comes when our life is
already in ruins, our hopes already destroyed and our hearts already
broken. Only God, out of His Love and compassion, knows how much more we
can take. Only He knows the perfect timing and the perfect way to show
us ourselves and to orchestrate all the events in our lives according to
His will. We, of course, feel that we are being unfairly stripped,
flayed and laid out bare for everyone to see and that what is happening
is cruel and completely undeserved.
Since we are already covered with inexplicable
confusion and humiliation, Godís ways become totally incomprehensible to
us. The desperation we feel at this time defies explanation and
surpasses all sensory pain.
Often we feel like just giving up, shutting down and
dying. In fact, we feel death would be a relief. We become numb and
conscious of very little else, except our own suffering and our own
pain. We hate what we see ourselves thinking and doing, and we feel we
are the most miserable of creatures. We begin to experience great
insecurity in doing the things that we used to do with great ease. We
have the feeling that we are being cursed and crossed out by God,
certainly not blessed. Thus, we despair of life itself.
Paul understood this. In 2 Corinthians 1:8 he says:
"For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came
to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength,
insomuch that we despaired even of life."
No Consolation from Anyone
Not only do we feel abandoned by God, we also feel
that our family and friends have deserted us. As David said in Psalm
69:20, "Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; and I
looked for some to take pity, but there was none." And Job experienced
the same thing, "He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine
acquaintances are verily estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, and
my familiar friends have forgotten me" (Job 19:13-14).
Not only has our hope been cut off from God, it has
also been cut off from others. No one reaches out to us; no one takes
pity on us; and no one takes the time to listen or counsel us. (Job
19:19; Psalm 55:12-14)
Often in the middle of all this horror, our reputation
vanishes and we become unable, for various reasons, to justify ourselves
and clear our name. Thus, we become even more repugnant to our friends
and family. I believe losing our reputation is one of the hardest
experiences to endure. Our reputation is difficult to let go of, because
itís who we are.
Jesus was humiliated and betrayed by His own family
and His friends. His reputation was unjustly tarnished. However, Jesusí
way of dealing with these things was not to run around and try to save
and repair that which was already lost, but to simply relinquish Himself
to God and trust Him implicitly. Listen to Isaiah 53:7 and 1 Peter 2:23:
"He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His
mouthÖ." "When He was reviled, [He] reviled not again; when He
suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that
This needs to be our response alsoóto commit ourselves
unreservedly to God (in naked faith) and trust Him to carry us through.
Itís a very painful lesson to learn that we canít
always depend upon our friends and our family. How desperately we want
to look horizontally for the support and the love we need, but
God is graphically showing us that we must only look vertically
to Him for our strength, our esteem and our love. Sometimes our loved
ones will be there for us and those times will be wonderful; but, at
other times, they will have their own issues to deal with and they will
be unable to support us. God, however, is always there for us and we
must learn to look only to Him. "Trust ye not in a friend, put ye
not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that
lieth in they bosom" (Micah 7:5-7).
Again, God is the only One who can give us the
consistent Love, esteem and comfort that we need. So we shouldnít be
crushed when others do selfish and mean things to us. God already told
us they would. We can be assured, however, that in the end the truth
will all come out.
The bottom line is, how much do we trust God? Do we
trust Him enough to give Him everything in our lives? Or, do we
only trust Him with the things that donít really matter to us? This is
what He is asking in our night seasons. Whether itís our reputation, our
job, our marriage, our health, our children or our friends. Godís
question to all of us is, "Will you trust Me to carry you through?"
A Feeling of Rebellion
Another emotion weíll experience at this time is
rebelliousness. I know this was certainly true with me. As God began to
work in my life and everything began to fall apart, I struggled and
strained to "control" what was happening. At the time, I didnít realize
I was fighting against God. I thought it was the enemy who was doing all
of these things. I thought if I could just fight him harder, I would
break free. Of course, just the opposite happened; the more I fought,
the worse things got.
Now the truth is that the enemy is always at
work in our lives. But when we have a situation where we have done
all that God has asked of us (renewed our minds and put on the Armor
of God, etc.), and the circumstances still donít improve, chances are
these are Godís circumstances and He is orchestrating them for His
purposes. At this point, we must cease striving and struggling, and
simply surrender, relinquish and abandon ourselves to Godís will.
There is a fine line between apathy and passiveness
and relinquishment and abandonment. I am not
suggesting that we just lie back and do nothing. Thatís foolishness, and
certainly not Godís will. I am suggesting, however, that once we have
gone through all the doorways that are open and available to us, and if
there are no more options left, then we must rest in peace, knowing that
God has allowed this particular thing into our lives. And we must know
that He will work it out in His timing and according to His perfect
will, if we lie still.
Our continued resistance should only prove to us how
far we are from truly possessing the courage and the faith we thought we