Dark night of the soul

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By Dave Henning / March 19, 2015

John Ortberg begins Chapter 16 (“Dark Night of the Soul”) of Soul Keeping by observing that if you ask people who don’t believe in God why they don’t believe, the number one reason they give is suffering. Conversely, if you ask people who believe in God what helped them achieve the most spiritual growth, the number one answer is suffering.

The soul is the place of the greatest pain because the soul is the deepest expression of a person.  St. John of the Cross wrote that the dark night of the soul is not simply the experience of suffering, but suffering in what feels like the silence of God.  Pastor Ortberg explains:

“In the dark night, the Bible I read turns to ashes.  In the dark night, words and books and songs that once spoke to my soul now leave me cold.”

John stresses that the dark night of the soul is initiated by God.  It is God who moved.  Yet, St. John of the Cross states that while the dark night of the soul is pained, it is not hopeless.  It is a time to learn spiritual meekness and develop patience to wait for whatever God gives us and when God chooses to give, as Pastor Ortberg describes:

“What do we do in the dark night?  We do nothing.  We wait.  We remember that we are not God.  We hold on.  We ask for help.  We do less. . . . We let go of our need to hurry through it,  You can’t run in the dark.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses have helped you develop patience during your journey toward revisioned and revitalized vocation?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Joyful confidence in God”

About the author

    Dave Henning


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