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dark night of the soul
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Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. -- Psalm 62:5

 
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HOPE RESTORED

Through the Dark Night

By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Daily Life Producer

CBN.comIt began when my husband lost his job. But it didn’t happen immediately. At first, I was not worried at all.

God will take care of us. This is just an opportunity for God to give him an even better job, I thought.

See, for the last two years he had been working in a job that he did not enjoy. It paid the bills, but it was nothing like the career he had always dreamed of, the one he spent years training for.

His career was just one dream that he had watched go up in smoke in recent years.  A full explanation would take too long, but suffice it to say there was a lengthy list of obstacles from which he had already emerged. People in our church began calling him Joseph because his own life story so closely resembled the man of biblical days.

So after coming through such adversity, I knew this had to be God’s timing. He was closing the door on my husband’s previous job, because He had something so much better waiting for him.

That thought, along with some key Bible verses about trusting God, kept me going for about a month. But after a few months the new dream job had not materialized. In fact, after interviews with more than 40 companies, no job had materialized. Not even a crummy, just-pay-the-bills kind of job like the one he had previously.

That’s when the negativity started to creep in.

What was God doing? Could He not see that we were starting to drain our savings account to pay bills as the months went by?

Soon it became hard to dismiss these thoughts, and I began to dwell on them.

The devil always knows which lies to whisper to us when we are down, and he began working overtime convincing me that God didn’t care.

My questions of, “Why, God?” turned to anger and doubt. Had I believed a myth? Was there really anything to the Christian life?

I felt that my husband and I had both tried to serve God and live out our faith the best we could. In light of that, our situation felt very unfair. My mind raced with questions.

Is this the way God treats those who have been faithful to Him? If so, why bother being faithful anymore?

I felt that God had abandoned me. I felt like I had been betrayed by my Best Friend, and I was completely heart broken. I cried incessantly. God had the power to fix the problem, so why wasn’t He doing something?

In my anger toward God I stopped praying. I thought, He isn’t answering anyway, so why bother?
 
I stopped singing praises to Him. I felt that I no longer meant the lyrics I was singing, and I didn’t want to waste time for either of us sending up empty words. I even avoided the preset Christian radio stations in my car. The songs on them only fueled my anger at the God that I felt had let me down.

I also stopped taking communion, because I knew I wasn’t right with God. I wondered if I ever would be again. I grew more resentful day by day.

Even when my husband did eventually get a job, my anger did not cease. It was not the dream job that I felt he deserved, and to me, it seemed too little too late from a God that is all powerful.

I was fully immersed in what Saint John of the Cross termed a “dark night of the soul.” It lasted for months.

What brought me through it? I wish I could provide a cure-all answer -- the one action to take that will make it all better whenever you feel like you have hit rock bottom. But there was no magic solution I could find to make my world right again.

There were several things that the Lord taught me from the experience (I’ll share those in part two of this article next week). But those lessons came later. At the time, I felt like there was nothing I could do to make things better.

Only two things brought me through: God’s faithfulness and the prayers of His people.

Let me explain.

As the months dragged by, I had given up trying to escape the misery. I didn’t know if this crisis of faith would be permanent or not, but I no longer tried to turn it around.

My last half-hearted prayer to God had been offered at an outside chapel service weeks before. Gathered around a bonfire on a chilly night, the minister spoke of healing and declared that God wanted to heal each of us. I knew I was desperately in need of emotional and spiritual healing, but I doubted the healing he spoke of was for me.

Although I meant the words I offered to God that night, as I watched the smoke rise from the fire, I wondered if my prayer was mixed in with it, rising up only to vanish out of site as if it never existed.

But I prayed the words anyway: Lord, if you want me to come out of this you have to do it because I don’t know how.

For weeks there was no change.

Then one day, I heard a Christian song on a CD that my husband had left in the car’s CD player. Though I wanted to turn it off, I couldn’t. The words were too familiar. It had been a favorite song of mine during my days of youth choir. The first verse and chorus especially caught my attention.

When you're up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams;
When your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes;
When you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fears;
Don't let the faith you're standing in seem to disappear.

Praise the Lord. He can work through those who praise Him.
Praise the Lord. For our God inhabits praise.
Praise the Lord. For the chains that seem to bind you serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you when you praise Him.

Though other Christian songs only seemed to pour salt on the open wounds in my heart, this one was different. I felt hopeful when I heard it. I played it over and over during the next few days.

What happened next was unbelievable to me. I listened to the song again one morning on the way to work, and it was as if the fog in my head suddenly cleared. There was a change in the heaviness that had been my companion for the past several long months. I literally felt it lift off of me.

Could it be that the darkness was finally lifting? Was that a ray of sunlight I felt piercing my heart? What was happening?

As I walked up the path toward our office building, I contemplated the turn of events.

I’m not angry anymore. I feel at peace, I thought.

Weird, how did that happen? I asked, directing the question to no one in particular.

But God answered.

His answer? "People were praying for you."

It took a moment for that to sink in.

In His mercy, God had remained faithful to me, and He had lifted me from the pit of despair. It had not been through any of my own actions, for I had made myself quite at home in that pit. But He did it out of His infinite love and in response to the prayers of His people.

While I was in the midst of the pity party of the century, and raging against God, He never stopped loving me. He never left my side. He even prompted people to pray for me. And then He lovingly answered their prayers.

Are you in the middle of a storm? Has it made you press in closer to God, or are running away from Him?

If you are in the middle of your own dark night, the best piece of advice I can offer is this: Hold onto Jesus. Don’t turn away from Him. Run into His arms and let Him hold you while the storm rages.

Psalm 147:3 promises, He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Allow Him access to the deep places in your heart.

And if you are not in the midst of a trial right now, rejoice! Then pray for those who are experiencing a storm. Your prayers will mean more to them than you can imagine.

Read part 2 of this article.

 

Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Meet Him today.


Comments? Email me

More articles by Belinda on CBN.com

 

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