Passing Through the Night
|By: Nancy Missler; ©2001|
|This month Kristin shares the story of another woman’s struggles with the aftermath of abortion, and her testimony of how God forgave her and released her from the guilt.|
How Do We “Feel” Going Through This Night?
Once we understand God’s purposes for the dark night of the soul, we can go on and explore this night season in greater detail from our own perspective. Because this dark night shakes our consecration, our conversion and our commitment to God, we will be experiencing a wide variety of emotions. It’s vitally important to express what we are feeling, because acknowledging our real thoughts and emotions will help us understand what exactly we are to then confess and give over to God.
This is written primarily to comfort you with the thoughts and feelings of others who have walked this same path, and then to share some of the things you can do to get through this time easier. If we know that others have experienced what we are feeling and, yet, have come through the night season even closer to the Lord, that gives us hope and encouragement.
- “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Confused and Resistant
One of the first mental emotions we will experience is confusion. Not understanding what is happening to us is one of the hardest things to endure. In the past, we have always felt that God has (at least, in general) shown us what is going on. In this dark night, however, understanding is the first thing that seems to go. And the confusion that is left in its place is overwhelming and frightful. It’s like a vacuum. We talk to God. We pray to Him, but nothing happens—nothing changes. The comforting presence of God is gone and we find no answers. Thus, we constantly question ourselves, “If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?” We say, “Is this thing really from God or is it from the enemy?” We are totally at a loss and completely confounded as to why we are being treated this way.
Everything we do seems to produce chaos as God delays all our hopes and plans and dreams. We continually go from the heights of expectation to the depths of despair. The psalmist puts it this way, “Thou hast lifted me up, and [then] cast me down.” (Psalm 102:10) We literally experience this roller coaster every day. (The truth is, God will never actually allow us to fall, although He permits the terror of falling in order to shatter our “self”-confidence.)
Many of our troubles appear to be exacerbated by our own resistance to what God is doing. We forget that, in the past, we have given Him permission to do whatever is necessary to conform us into His image. Once He begins His work, however, instead of remembering our commitment and seeing things from His perspective, we become tormented and consumed in ourselves. And, of course, the more we “hold on to ourselves,” the sharper our suffering becomes.
If we can just learn to surrender ourselves to God and permit the crucifying process to go unheeded, the purging will become much softer. God wants Christ to be formed in us so that we can experience His abundant life and we can have that intimate fellowship with Him. He has a plan for our lives, and we can’t stop it, even if we wanted to. We must allow Him to complete what He starts. He, alone, knows what is best for us. Unfortunately for many of us, we recognize this far too late.
Because we don’t understand what is happening or what God is trying to do in our lives, we fight Him the whole way, which, of course, makes everything much worse. This also causes God to have to teach us these same lessons over and over again, before we progress and move on.
To compound the problem, those around us who do not understand what we are going through (how can they, if we ourselves don’t understand?), also become troublesome. They make remarks like, “Get on with your life.” “Snap out of it.” “You’re always so sad. What’s wrong with you?”
Many believers will turn back at this point and abandon the road, because it’s too hard, too narrow and too painful. Scripture tells us that only a very few will endure and finish the dark night and go on to experience “the fulness of Christ” that God desires.
Like a Piece of Broken Pottery
Another way of expressing how we feel is like a piece of pottery that has been flung to the ground and broken into a million pieces. God is shaking everything in us that can be shaken. Only that which is real and firm and of Him will be left. Thus, every waking moment is dominated by an overwhelming sense of emptiness and inexplicable loss as all our efforts at every turn are frustrated and our fruits are ruined.
No one is able to comfort our intense suffering, because it’s like our soul has been literally cast off and flung out into space. We find ourselves in a whirlpool of despair and loneliness. There is a deep bitterness within us that cries out like David in Psalm 51:8, “Oh, God, You have broken all my bones.” We feel dismembered, in anguish, in a state of numbness and lifelessness, like we are in a dark dungeon. In fact, we sometimes feel “death” would be a relief because what is happening is, in our eyes, cruel.
Formerly we found God in solitude, prayer and meditation, but now none of these things brings us peace. Thus, because God’s voice is silent, our sense of meaning and purpose is lost.
We read, but we don’t understand what we read. We pray, but all our spiritual feelings are gone. We go to Bible studies, but we don’t get anything out of them like we used to. All our old ways of edifying ourselves don’t seem to work any more. We don’t get satisfaction like we used to from meditation, from reading the Bible or from Bible studies.
Even when we run to hear our favorite speakers or listen to our special worship music, nothing seems to move our hearts. Thus, we feel we have “lost” God. We are not “special” to Him anymore, and certainly, not “loved.” We want to run, but there is no place to go.
The truth is, of course, that God is not missing during this time, even though we “feel” that He is. He has just hidden Himself from our view. He is in the darkness. The truth is that God never takes His eyes off of us, even for a moment. It’s just that we can’t “see” Him in the darkness. We forget the Scripture that tells us that God not only dwells in the light, but that He also dwells in the darkness. For this moment, darkness and light are the same to Him. God would never lead us into a situation, only to abandon us there. That’s not His character! That’s not His way.
As Hebrews 13:5 says, “I [Jesus] will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” But, for this short period of time, He has simply hidden Himself to test, strengthen and confirm our faith.