Friday, 06 April 2018 09:30

Dark Night of the Soul

Written by  Sandra (Sam) Belkofer
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In Christian theology, there is something called “dark night of the soul”. This refers to a feeling of despair and no known way to end suffering.  This term is also used in in the world of psychological dynamics seen as depression, despair and anxiety when they become so severe that they interfere with having a life that has moments of joy as well as difficulties.  There are many perspectives of “a dark night of the soul,” but as a therapist and a Christian, I have come to view a feeling of separation from God as a “dark night of the soul”.

 

As Christians, we have recently observed Lent and celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  During Lent, we prepare for Easter. We do this by giving up something, praying, adding a spiritual ritual to our daily lives or spending time daily contemplating the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His Father.  Years ago, I focused on giving up certain foods or habits during Lent. As time passed, I began adding a service to others rather than some type of fasting.  What I finally realized is that the blessing in observing Lent and becoming self-disciplined was that in doing so, I was closer to God.  I felt more connected to Him, and this was comforting to me. It remains so.

 

It is my observation that when we are in despair, we “feel” separated from God. I have great respect for the power and importance of feelings. They teach us things that we need to know.  They awaken in us needs, losses and joy. However, it is important, in my view, that we move out of feelings into our thinking in order to understand them and facilitate change or accept something wonderful. If I “feel” separated from God, I must remind myself that He is never separated from me. I am experiencing a feeling that is not based in reality.

 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

 

And… “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am sure that neither death or life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8: 37-39)

 

We all experience “dark nights of the soul”.  It is unavoidable on this earth. In order to survive and thrive, we have the choice to identify our fears of separation from God. When we do so, it is again our choice to realize His love for us and His desire for us to be well and whole. When we are able to have insight into our fear and hopelessness, we are able to work to connect with God and His love.

 

Lent gives us the opportunity to actively work for an awareness of our connection with God every year during the 40 days before Easter. Unfortunately, “dark nights of the soul” come far more often than during those 40 days. The gifts of Lent are many fold. We are given the opportunity to sacrifice in recognition of Jesus Christ’s giving of His life for us. We are able to incorporate spiritual regimens into our daily life that we don’t employ during the remaining days of the year. We are given the choice to prepare for the joy of Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We are also given the choice to strengthen our spiritual muscles so that we are more able to move beyond a “dark night of the soul” by strengthening our understanding of God’s connection to us through his abiding love.

 

 

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