The Dark Night

A white-tailed deer drinks
    from the creek;
I want to drink God,
    deep draughts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, “Will I ever make it—
    arrive and drink in God’s presence?”
I’m on a diet of tears—
    tears for breakfast, tears for supper.
All day long
    people knock at my door,
Pestering,
    “Where is this God of yours?” – Psalm 42:1-3, The Message, A Psalm of the Sons of Korah

Meditation

I stand in awe at the wisdom of brothers-in-Christ who have preceded me.  One such person was a Carmelite monk named “John of the Cross” (1542-1591).  He worked tirelessly to reform the Roman Catholic Church.  For all of his devotion and work, he was arrested and confined by opposition.  During his confinement, John wrote The Dark Night of the Soul.  In it he discusses spiritual growth from grief and darkness (i.e., The Dark Night); not joy and light. Thanks to John’s influential writings, we see spiritual maturity grow through grief and sorrow. God props us up in our darkest times!

John reminds us that through faithful obedience and devotion through dark times, “pride becomes humility, greed becomes simplicity, wrath becomes contentment, luxury becomes peace, gluttony becomes moderation, envy becomes joy, and sloth becomes strength.”

Dark times cause a believer’s faith to grow-up.  As believers, we hear non-believers call out, “Where is this God of yours?”  Likewise, we also search to understand the burden of life’s tragedies.  Our souls grapple to gain perspective on grief.  Our emotions reel from human tragedies.  Our will and ambitions wrestle with the “why” of undeserved gain for the wicked at the expense of the faithful.  Our conscience stings when righteousness is maligned.  In anguish, our hearts cry for intervention. 

Faithfulness, during dark times, shows us how our enemy seeks spiritual advantage.  He challenges the truth of God’s word and His faithfulness attempting to cripple us.  He tries to re-direct our faith goals for short-sighted, temporal gain.  He tampers with feelings and runaway emotions to avenge our discouragement, plot revenge and prompt unstable choices.  He sears our conscience to make unbalanced, unbiblical, unprincipled reactions.                       

Application

God weans us from simplistic faith by allowing inward darkness and times of spiritual drought.  God’s love is not a naive melody.  We see and share His frustration and experience His grace.  His power will be revealed in judgment to the relief and jubilation of His angels and saints.  The unfathomable, unimaginable, inconceivable grace of God shines brightest in the darkest days of our souls.  How inscrutable was bottomless pit of God’s disappointment when we walked away from His love and shunned His Son’s life.  He gets it!  His grace is more than sufficient for my momentary grief in darkness … if I will just believe and accept it.        

Next Steps

I must remember the next three verses in the Psalm, above …

These are the things I go over and over,
    emptying out the pockets of my life.
I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd,
    right out in front,
Leading them all,
    eager to arrive and worship,
Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving—
    celebrating, all of us, God’s feast!

 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.
-Psalm 42:4-6, The Message, A Psalm of the Sons of Korah