Someone I know is going through a “season of silence”. God seems to have ceased all forms of communication. He is not there.
My spirit resonates with every description she gives of this season. I have been through seasons of silence as well. Those seasons made me wish I had never heard God speak in the first place.
Before I knew Christ, there was a sense of emptiness in my soul. But once I heard Him calling to me, I was filled with purpose, meaning, love, and peace. God filled me with His Spirit and He filled me with awe for the Divine. And then one day, it was gone.
I am not alone in my experience and neither is my friend. There are many reasons God seems to go radio silent on us. It could be that we have pulled away from Him. It could be we no longer place ourselves in grace’s way. It could be we have chosen sin over God’s presence.
But what if it is none of those…
St. John of the Cross, one of the great Catholic mystics, called it “The Dark Night of the Soul”. The dark night of the soul is a poem written by St. John to describe an intense season of spiritual dryness. And yet it is more than spiritual dryness. The dark night of the soul is more akin to a mid-life crisis except that it can happen at any age and more than once.
In Chuck DeGroat’s article, he highlights that the dark night of the soul prompts us to wade into the deep waters of life. We ask the deep questions; the ones with answers only God knows. It is a time when we are certain we are losing our minds, but in reality, we are finding our soul.
During my dark night(s) of the soul, there were a few things that helped me through the silent days and still more silent nights.
Listening – I stopped thinking of God as being silent and started thinking of Him as being a really good listener. There have been many times in my marriage when my husband and I are having an intense conversation. At some point, he will “accuse” me of not participating. And my rebuttal is usually, “I am participating. I’m listening”. So let God listen to you. And every once in awhile stop to listen to him.
Go Deeper – My dark nights of the soul were often precipitated by answers that no longer worked for me. I thought I had figured out life and God and people and myself. Then I realized I was wrong. It’s a time to take things apart, examine them, and put them back together. And God wants to help us do this.
Confess – During my dark nights, I confessed…everything. I confessed sin. I confessed doubt. I confessed to God. And I also found at least one person I could confess to my season of spiritual crisis. In confessing to that one person, I discovered that my problem had a name; the Dark Night of the Soul. And somehow I felt normal again in my abnormality.
Read – I read other people’s accounts of their Dark Nights. I read St. John of the Cross. I read the book of Ecclesiastes. I read Job. I read Spurgeon and Finney and Wesley. And I found comfort that God didn’t stay silent forever.
Hang in there! God appears to be asleep in a recliner. But He is preparing you for a spiritual awakening like no other.