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  • Writer's pictureZack DeBruyne

Stagnant Faith: Dark Night of the Soul




The Dark Night of the Soul


Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18


But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.


For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.


It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.


All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.


So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


Introduction

When I say ‘Dark Night of the Soul’, what do you think of? What do you think a dark night is?


Defined

  • A God-initiated season where one intentionally experiences the perceived absence, silence, and distance from God in one’s life. Often expressed as a feeling of desolation, feelings of abandonment from God, and overwhelming weight of distrust, loneliness, and deep dissatisfaction.


Have you ever experienced a season like this? What was it like for you?


Why am I Experiencing a Dark Night?

  • First, a dark night is not our fault, it is not the soul’s fault. It is not due to a list of specific actions or particular sins that you’ve committed in a particular order that caused the lights to turn out.

    • Instead, as we enter into this cold and dark season toward and with God, the dark night is in-fact initiated and permitted by God for the formation of our hearts, our souls, and our lives.

  • Second, we experience a dark night for reasons that only God can know. But, oftentimes, it is out of God's wisdom and recognition that we need to be stirred to a deeper reliance on Christ, to a deeper repentance of our sinfulness, and finally a deepening of our intimacy with Christ.


When you experienced a season of this perceived absence of God, what was it that you struggled with most? What was it in your life that boiled to the surface or distanced you from leaning in a trust in God?


Purpose of a Dark Night

  • All people experience these dark nights differently, but a main characteristic is that God permits such a season to create the environment for personal spiritual growth, reliance on God, and a purging of our hearts and idols to increase our desire and love of God.

  • St. John of the Cross, author of the Dark Night, “God’s love is not content to leave us in our weakness, and for this reason He takes us into a dark night. He weans us from all of the pleasures by giving us dry times and inward darkness…. No soul will ever grow deep in the spiritual life unless God works passively in that soul by means of the dark night.”

  • The Dark Night wipes away all of that which distances us from God, all that we find our comfort in, all that we have selfishly called faithfulness to Christ when it is really faithfulness to our own power. It forces us to face the reality of the condition of our faith head-on, and God uses these seasons to bring us to allow us to let our faith actually be faith; as it trusts in the promises and character of God even when life doesn’t reflect that.


What do you think about this as a purpose? What do you think about the idea that these seasons are God-initiated?



What Do I Do in a Dark Night?

  • We have a hard time with the dark night. Generally our response is do more. If you read the Bible more, or pray more, or give more, or try more than maybe God will draw near to you.

  • But John says just the opposite. Our tendency is to make all kinds of resolutions to be more spiritual. To stave off the darkness. To work ourselves into a sunny disposition. But the greater the resolution, the greater the fall.

    • “Our problem is that we lack the patience that waits for whatever God would give us and when God chooses to give. We must learn spiritual meekness, which will come about in the dark night. We must learn to trust, to lean into the promises of God, even when we feel far from Him.”


  1. Do Nothing - Psalm 130: 1-6


We wait. We remember that we are not God. We hold on. We ask for help. We do less. We resign from things, we rest more, we stop going to church, we ask somebody else to pray because we can’t. We let go of our need to hurry through it. You can’t run in the dark.


  1. Remember - Psalm 130:7-8


We take time to look back on the faithfulness of God to us, to those around us, and to His people throughout Scripture. We once again see the joy of the Lord as our strength, an unchanging promise always given to us.



  1. Call out to God - Read Psalm 88


Like the Psalmists in their dark nights, we too can call out to God. Do not dwell and let the darkness grow and fester. Instead, lean deeply into how you are feeling – what God is doing in your heart and how you feel. Allow the fullness of your emotion the lead you to a place of reflection and prayer, asking God to help you to trust Him and remember His faithfulness in the darkness.


How can the Psalms equip us to experience dark nights faithfully? Does the idea of waiting, remembering, and calling out in these seasons sound helpful to you? How might these ideas helped you in a previous dark night season?


Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18


But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.


For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.


It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.


All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.


So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.





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