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The Discipline of Darkness – Part 2

by on February 22, 2012

When we consider the dark night of the soul we do not have to look far in Scripture before we find a man who, although the Word describes him as one who passionately pursued the heart of God, found himself in a season of extreme darkness and distress; his name was David.  For millennia men and women have found comfort in the words of the Psalms; words like “the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want” and “why so downcast, O my soul?  Put your trust in God.”  Yet the story that we read of this great man of God reveals another side of his faith a side that I believe was that which produced the song, brought strength in the battle and endurance in the face of extreme opposition.

Listen to the prayer of David found in Psalm 38.  “I am feeble and severely broken; I groaned because of the turmoil of my heart.  Lord, all of my desire is before you; and my sighing is not hidden from you.  My heart pants and my strength fails me.  As for the light of my eyes, it also is gone for me, my loved ones and my friends stand aloof from me.  My relatives stand afar off.”[1] He continues to say that his ears are like those of a deaf man and his tongue like one who is mute. What David is actually saying is that, in this season of his life, he can’t find the words to articulate his pain, and where he once found comfort in the words of others, in the sound of the psaltery and harp, now he finds only silence; deep and deafening silence.  Oh that you and I would be as broken and transparent before God as David;  “…my sighing is not hidden from You” yet far too many of us hide our struggles and put on, dare I say, Christian pretenses that everything in our life is “just fine”.

Years ago a young man and his wife came to our church and within weeks this magnetic fellow began seeking areas where he could serve.  He always appeared upbeat and if asked “how are you doing today” he’d always respond “I’m blessed!” accompanied by a somewhat cheesy grin.  I sensed there were struggles within their family but could never crack the “I’m blessed” response.  The mask was ripped off the night he was arrested for domestic violence against his wife.  Friends, it is one thing to speak in faith – to “see things that are not as though they are” and it’s another to walk around in denial of physical reality.  If you were one who was told that in coming to Christ all of the bad stuff of life would forever be vacant from your life, allow me to be the first with a news flash – they lied to you!  Jesus Himself promised us that “in this world you will have tribulation”.  “Promise” you might ask?  Yes, actually  the promise comes in the second half of the verse – He has overcome the tribulations of the world for us.[2]

In John the Revelator’s description of those victorious at Christ’s return he says “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death”.[3]  They overcame – they were not exempt!

There is a reason, a divine purpose for seasons of darkness of soul, for silence from heaven and that reason is not always (and probably more correctly stated seldom) Heavens response to some sin or disobedience.  No, I have to believe that most often the darkness is useful – needful in the life of the believer.  For it is in silence our ears are retuned to hear more clearly and our eyes are refreshed to view the world with greater focus.  The dim of the Dark Night serves, not in the moment, to refresh us – to make us more keenly aware, and appreciative, of the Light around and within us.  The whispers in the Dark Night will tell you that your light is forever hidden, but be of good cheer our Savior has declared that “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light”. [4]

Pressing in,

Pastor Terry


[1] Psalm 38:8-11

[2] John 16:33  Italic added for emphasis

[3] Revelation 12:11

[4] Luke 11:33

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From → Dr. Terry Jones

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