Have you ever wondered where God was, if He had just forgotten about you or those you love? Have you ever wondered if He was truly good?
The 16th Century Spanish monk, St. John of the Cross, wrote a poem called The Dark Night of the Soul. “Dark night of the soul” is a metaphor used to describe a phase in a person’s spiritual life, marked by a sense of loneliness and desolation.The main idea of the poem is the painful experience that people endure as they seek to grow in spiritual maturity and union with God. (Reference: Wikipedia)
This “dark night of the soul” is described perfectly by Ann Voskamp in her new book, One Thousand Gifts. She begins the book sharing the story of her younger sister’s death. Ann’s 18-year-old sister Amy had toddled across the country road, wandering after a kitty cat, and was hit by a propane delivery truck driver – killed instantly. Their mother saw the whole thing from her kitchen window, washing dishes. It is Ann’s first childhood memory, and where her life’s story and her book begins.
In this book, Ann asks the same questions we ask, but often never voice. “Where is God, really? How can He be good when babies die, and marriages implode, and dreams blow away, dust in the wind?” (p. 12)
And on page 14, “No, God, we won’t take what you give. No, God, Your plans are a gutted, bleeding mess and I didn’t sign up for this and You really thought I’d go for this? No, God, this is ugly and this is a mess and can’t You get anything right and just haul all this pain out of here and I’ll take it from here, thanks. And God? Thanks for nothing.”
Have you ever felt that way? Some of you may read that and react with shock and outrage. How could someone talk to God, the Creator, like that? Yet God knows we think it and He loves us anyway. He is big enough to handle our questions, our anger, our confusion, our hurt, He knows exactly the pain we feel. He, too, experienced a dark night of the soul when His creation, Adam and Eve, chose death instead of the life He made them for with Him. He, too, knew the pain and sorrow we feel in this life when HIs only son Jesus died on the cross to redeem humanity.
Yet as Ann writes, it’s only in darkness that we understand and finally see light.
“Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” ~ Psalm 139:12
If you haven’t already bought One Thousand Gifts and joined the book club at (In)Courage, there’s still time. We just finished chapter one on Sunday. Below is a video on Chapter 1 from Sunday, with Ann. She will be there for each video session!
Thought for this week: has there been a time in your life where you wondered where God was? That you experienced a “dark night of the soul”? Looking back, do you now realize God was there through it all, or do you still feel abandoned and wonder if He is really good?
Action step: Journal about it today.
Video of Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts
One Thousand Gifts: Chapter One from Bloom (in)courage on Vimeo.