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Embracing the Dark Night of the Soul

October 11, 2021

 Shift from victim to pilgrim!

Embracing the Dark Night of the Soul

By Katie Pearson

“Then Job answered and said: ‘Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; he would pay attention to me. There an upright man could argue with him, and I would be acquitted forever by my judge. Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him…. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; yet I am not silenced because of the darkness, nor because thick darkness covers my face.’” - Job 23:1–9, 16–17

We do all that we can to avoid suffering. We turn a blind eye, deny, rationalize, and attach ourselves to lesser loves to feel better. I’m sure many of you are finding new distractions during the pandemic. I know I have been checking my phone for texts and emails far more than usual. It diverts my mind from my hurting heart. How do you cope when loss comes close to home? It’s not something we want to think about.

Have you read the book of Job? Many people avoid it because it shows us that godly people sometimes endure unimaginable tragedy. Christians can experience prolonged grief marked by confusion, doubt, fear, and anger. But the book of Job isn’t meant to scare us. Job affirms us. As believers, we are not disqualified when we experience a dark night of the soul. Living by faith doesn’t mean that tragedy doesn’t hurt. Trusting in God doesn’t mean that we will always bounce back quickly from pain. We find comfort in Job’s trust and find encouragement in his faith.

Pastor Peter Scazerro has written extensively about the spiritual stages we face in life. He compares “the dark night of the soul” to an insurmountable wall—one that every follower of Christ will face. In many trials we face, we can push through on our own strength. But we cannot overcome this obstacle alone. Only God can carry us to the other side of this dark time.

God has a purpose for every season of our lives—even the dark times. According to John Wesley, such bewildering seasons work to make us more “perfect in love.” God isn’t punishing us; he’s perfecting us. He is transforming us into the likeness of Christ.

Facing a crisis challenges our faith, and many believers stumble when it feels like God isn’t rescuing them from their struggle. Other people have fallen away from their professions of faith when they couldn’t see God’s hand or understand His motives.

But one of the most powerful lessons from the book of Job is that we won’t understand everything. At the end of the book, Job resolved his questions with simple faith. He answered the LORD and said, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:2–3).

If we can make the shift from victim (Why me?) to pilgrim (What’s next?), we can continue on the path to perfection in Christ. God, in his wisdom and strength, will overcome every wall blocking our way home.

This story of one man’s devastation provides the answers we can all cling to when our identity is shaken and God’s goodness is called into question. Spend some time reading through the entire book of Job, which holds valuable lessons that will give us faith in seasons of grief.


Related Resource:

The Crucified Life

The Crucified Life small group Christian study is designed to reflect upon the Seven Last Words of Christ from the cross and what they mean for us today. Walk the road of Calvary with Jesus in order to grow closer to Him. The Crucified Life small group study examines human suffering as it is mirrored in Christ’s suffering on the cross and what His seven last words say to a hurting world. Find out incredible insights into these words as Jesus teaches us, even in death, how we can use our suffering and triumph over it for His glory. Begin your Crucified Life today.

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