Are Night Seasons Part of God’s Will -Part 2
|By: Nancy Missler; ©1999|
|What happens when you have prayed, sought godly council, taken a bold step of faith—and the bottom falls out from under you. Must you assume that you have gotten out of the will of God? Or could God be trying to teach you something—or perhaps draw you closer to Himself?|
Even though we all long to have the kind of intimacy that Jesus had with His Father, many of us have, instead, settled for a pale imitation of Christianity. We have become imprisoned by our “soulish” (and emotional) understanding of God. We declare that we are willing to pay the price for a deeper relationship with Him, but we writhe in agony when God begins to re-arrange our lives. Thus, until we understand God’s will and are willing to let our precious alabaster boxes be completely broken and Jesus’ Life formed in us, we will never fully experience the intimacy, the fulness and the oneness with God that He desires.
As I travel around the country speaking and sharing with other believers, I hear about so many crushing circumstances that God has allowed. I receive hundreds of letters and phone calls from Christians all over the country who are in similar night seasons. As these precious people attempt to sort through the wreckage of their broken dreams, hopes and plans, they feel weighted down by bitter disappointment, doubt and even a sense of abandonment.
They feel much like Job when he uttered in pain and ignorance, “What have I done to Thee, 0 watcher of men? Why hast Thou set me as Thy target?” (7:20 NAS) “Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps…” (Psalm 88:6)
The following are a few examples of the confusion and desperation these people are feeling. Are we somehow missing God? Are we hearing Him incorrectly? Are we jumping to conclusions, or are the things He allows in our lives truly part of His will towards us?
First, there is our own example. The circumstances that precipitated our bankruptcy, and that ultimately triggered my own night of faith, were absolutely perplexing. In 1989, Chuck was president and CEO of a small technology company that was awarded a contract to supply computers to all the school children in Russia. Many larger companies had bid for this contract, so when Chuck’s company won the deal, we were convinced it was the Lord’s hand. In fact, Chuck was so sure it was God’s will and so excited about the opportunity, he used most of our own personal money to help finance the deal. After continual “green lights” for the next six months, all of a sudden, the whole deal suddenly and unexpectedly fell apart, leaving us completely dumbstruck and financially destroyed. Was God in this? Was this His will?
Second, there is the story of our friend who had fallen in love with a beautiful young woman. This man had not only prayed consistently about the relationship, but he also had searched the Scriptures and sought counsel from other believers. When he was absolutely convinced the Lord was in it, he asked the young woman to marry him. She readily accepted, but the night before the wedding, she unexpectedly walked out on him. Our friend was totally crushed and, as a result, he went into a spiritual and emotional tailspin. Did this man somehow take a wrong turn, or was God’s will at work in these painful circumstances?
Then, there is the circumstances of our friends who’d spent their life savings to buy a restaurant. It had been their lifelong dream to own a diner, and after praying and seeking the Lord, they felt sure He was prompting them to move ahead. However, a year and a half after putting everything they owned into that restaurant to make it succeed, it went bankrupt.
Was God in this situation?
Next, there is the letter I received from a gentleman who told me about the lucrative job offer he’d accepted in another state. After the Lord confirmed the move in many ways, he and his wife confidently sold their home and took the kids out of school. After buying a new house and even relocating their in-laws, the “job of promise” suddenly fell through and this man was unable to find work for months. Again, did this man somehow miss God’s voice?
Then, there is the incident of the devout Christian parents whose teenage son, afflicted with cerebral palsy from birth, was suffering with severe pain in his back. After several medical opinions and months of constant prayer, these parents felt God directing them towards a specific surgical procedure for their son. Instead of relieving the pain, however, this surgery only compounded the problem and even, created physical complications that hadn’t existed before. Thus, the parents were left emotionally “shell-shocked” by this unexpected turn of events. Did they somehow “miss” God?
And finally, there is the woman who prayed for and wanted, more than anything else in the world, to be a mother and to have children. She loved God with all her heart and, yet, after the miscarriage of three babies, she was left devastated and feeling totally abandoned by Him. Listen, as she expresses her disappointment, “…when you have been a Christian for 15 years, however, where do you go? (Who do you turn to?) You know that everything else is false, intellectually and experientially, and yet the God you thought you knew was not who He turned out to be.… After our heartfelt pleadings were met with stony silence and a closed door, I had to face the fact that God could, but was choosing not to, act.”
Why It’s So Important to Know God’s Will
Are we somehow missing God? Was He in all of these tragedies? Would a loving Father really allow situations so devastating? Are these events truly part of God’s will towards us?
Ten years ago, I would have said, “No way!” But, as I search the Scriptures for understanding, I find passages like Job 30:26, “When I looked for [or expected] good, then evil came unto me.” And, Lamentations 3 says, “He hath led me, and brought me into darkness,[but] not into light…He hathbroken my bones…He hath set me in dark places…He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out…He hath enclosed my ways with hewn stone;He hath made my paths crooked.” (verses 2, 4, 6-7, 9) And Isaiah 59:9-10, “…We wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noonday as in the night…” And finally, Job 19:8, “He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and He hath set darkness in my paths.” (emphasis added)
There are many more Scriptures listed in the Appendix [of the book Faith in the Night Seasons].
All of the people in the above personal examples (including Chuck and me) were absolutely convinced that God had been involved in their decisions. They had prayed the whole way and felt assured that He had given them specific direction to step out in faith.
Yet in the end, many of them were left with emotional (and often financial) heartbreak and chaos.
Are you also one of these people?
I cannot answer for all the other people listed above, I can only answer for Chuck and me. But, I can say for both of us, in hindsight, all the devastating things that God has allowed in our lives over the last seven years have turned out, like Job said, to open our eyes and enable us to see Him in ways we never had before. And we recognize, as Ezekiel did, that God has not done without cause all that He has done. (14:23)
God loves each of us so much that He will do whatever is necessary in each of our lives to accomplish His will—to replace us with Himself, so that we might experience His abundant Life and be filled with His fulness. The way He implements His will is by lovingly breaking our outward man and then separating the soulish things in our lives from the spiritual. This period of time is often called the “night season.” If we understand what God is trying to accomplish, then the grief we might experience won’t shake the certainty of being loved and we won’t crumble or lose our faith in the dark. Nothing really matters as long as we have that “foundation” of knowing that we are loved. (If you have not already done so, I would really recommend you reading The Way of Agape, particularly Chapter Seven,“Knowing God Loves Us.”)
If we can see our circumstances as sent directly from God in order to perform His will, then we can, at least, receive them as part of His plan and remain at rest in them. However, if we don’t understand God’s will, especially in our night seasons, then we’ll get wiped out before we even start. Thus, I believe it’s critical that we understand what God’s will and purposes are for these night seasons. And, most important of all, how we can find the faith we need to get through them.
Loren Sandford has just written a good book on the dark night of the soul and he says, “Scripture shows us a repeated pattern in which man receives a call, experiences success, is driven into exile (dark night) and then, finally returns to fulfill his destiny in the Lord.”
- Job 42:5
- Burnout, Loren Sandford, page 126.