There comes a time in every life when God seems far and distant and irrelevant to one’s circumstances. It is at these times when the spiritual seems to be a non-existent reality. Therefore, questions of doubt arise, for example: “Where is God?”; “Why would God allow this to happen?”; “God did not answer my prayer.”; “I can’t believe anymore.”
It is at these times that many people walk away from the Lord and His will for their lives. People get angry at God over something which happened to them or someone they know and love, or they blame the way someone at church treated them or acted. They begin to do things they know are not right. People get busy living their lives and going through their daily routines, but ignoring God. Before they realize what is happening, God, Jesus, and spiritual things speak like a foreign language from a galaxy far-far away. They become a person alienated and indifferent to the spiritual life.
This scenario plays out too many times for followers of Jesus. We forget that we are human and must continue to grow in our faith and renew our faith. Like the seasons of the year, there are times of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter in the spiritual life. There are times when God seems distant and not caring about one’s circumstances. The dark night of the soul is part of the spiritual life, and is the time to go deeper with God rather than away from Him. Our relationship with God cannot become stagnant, or it will become dormant.
The dark night of the soul may be a time when we need rest (winter); and we need an emotional quiet. Our distance of God may be a process to prepare us on how to draw near to him. Our distance from God may help us see ourselves and our inner motives for what they really are. As people who have been engrained by our culture to live for “me, myself, and I”, it takes work to press in and get close to the Lord when we don’t feel like it or need rest. Our distance from God, also, may be a time to change our focus because; and in reality, God is never distant. As Jesus is quoted in Hebrews: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).Jesus never said following Him would be easy. He said quite the opposite: deny oneself, pick up your own cross, follow Him (Matthew 16:24). The dark night of the soul is never easy. It takes us to our core and God can seem very distant. And yet… if we can hang on, if we can work through our circumstance, we will discover that God really is present and really does want the best for us in life. We will discover that Spring does come after Winter and light after darkness. We will discover what Jesus meant when he said: “. . . I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).