The Dark Night of the Soul

In one of his lesser known plays, Orpheus Descending, dramatist Tennessee Williams wrote, “We’re all of us sentenced to a solitary confinement inside our own skins for life.” What a sobering description of loneliness. Perhaps the only worse feeling than human loneliness is separation from God’s presence. You might describe this desperately solitary feeling with phrases such as “my prayers don’t get past the ceiling” or “I’m going through ‘the dark night of the soul.'”

Imagine the lonely feelings the children of Israel experienced. Because of their sinfulness they became strangers in strange lands, scattered in exile among foreign nations. Yet God declared that he was providing a sanctuary for them even in their exile. Although they didn’t always see his hand at work in their circumstances, God never left them alone.

God showed up in the darkest hour. The prophet Ezekiel wrote, “The word of the Lord came to me. ‘Son of man, the people of Jerusalem have said of your fellow exiles and all the other Israelites: They are far away from the Lord; this land was given to us as our possessions.’ Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone'” (Ezekiel 11:14-15).

Thomas Kempis wrote, “Bear patiently your exile and the dryness of your mind. The time will come when I will make you forget these painful moments and you will enjoy inward quietness. I will open the Bible for you and you will be thrilled by your new understanding of my truth.”

God never promised that we wouldn’t have “dark nights of the soul.” He did better than that. He promised that we’d never face them alone.

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