In 1578 St. John of the Cross wrote a poem entitled The Dark Night of the Soul. John’s poem talks about the painful growth of the spiritual life and the times of dryness and loneliness that are often experienced by followers of Christ.
Our North American Evan-jellish-fish Church-ianity tells us that our spiritual life should be a constant celebration of joy, luxury and serenity, however these teachings are not realistic. Anyone who has pursued Christ with any degree of seriousness can attest to the fact that the road it tough and sometimes cracked and dry. These times of dryness are not punishments, they are not times of abandonment by God but they are a way that God brings us closer to himself so that he may “work an inner transformation of our soul.”
We need to develop a new way of thinking concerning spiritual dryness. I believe that Richard Foster in his book The Celebration of Discipline paints a beautiful picture of ‘the Dark Night’ and how we should react to it. Read on…
“When God lovingly draws us into a dark night of the soul, there is often a temptation to seek release from it and to blame everyone and everything for our inner dullness. The preacher is such a bore. The hymn singing is too weak. The worship service is so dull. We may begin to look around for another church or a new experience to give us “spiritual goose bumps.” This is a serious mistake. Recognize the dark night for what it is. Be grateful that God is lovingly drawing you away from every distraction so that you can see him clearly. Rather than chafing and fighting, become still and wait.”
Perhaps you are experiencing a time of spiritual dryness right now, if so, I encourage you to press on. Continue on in perseverance, righteousness and prayer. Your time of dryness is not a punishment, be sure to “hold in your heart a deep, inner, listening silence, and there be still until the work of solitude is done.” Your dryness doesn’t last forever, however your reaction to dryness can forever change you, if you allow it to.
Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the voice of his servant,
who walks in darkness
and has no light,
yet trusts in the name of the LORD
and relies upon his God?
– Isa. 50:10 (emp. added)