Sunday, October 30, 2011

October 30- The Dark Night Of The Soul

October 30, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Lamentations 3:1-66; Hebrews 1:1-14;
Psalm 102:1-28; Proverbs 26:21-22

Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great 
that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.
— Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979 

Lamentations 3:1-66

Depression is defined as severe despondency and dejection, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.  In a TIME magazine article in 2007, it was revealed that personal letters of Mother Teresa compiled over her 66 years of serving the poor in India show that Mother Teresa was depressed and hopeless for most of her ministry.  Contrary to her public persona, Mother Teresa was overwhelmed with doubt and felt no presence of God whatsoever. It appears that her feelings never abated.  While this is tragic, it is not rare for servants of God and prophets to feel depressed.  The difference is in whether or not genuine faith in God's truths are able to pull the person out of depression.  Jeremiah was depressed, but unlike Mother Teresa, Jeremiah had the tools to cope.  Although Jeremiah is overwhelmed with the suffering of his people and his own personal trials, Jeremiah is able to use the patterns found in the Scriptures of relying on the eternal attributes of God and the truth of God's Word to pull himself out of his dark night.

At this point in his writing Jeremiah compares the suffering of Jerusalem to his own personal suffering experienced as God's spokesman.  All prophets of God suffer.  Jeremiah cries out that God has brought him into deep darkness. The feeling is that God has turned against him. A heavy hand of oppression is aging him physically. He is walled in by his circumstances and feels as if he is weighed down by heavy chains. When he cries out, there seems to be a high wall blocking his prayers to God. From his perspective, God is shutting out his prayers. The road is winding and filled with detours. It is as if an arrow has been shot into Jeremiah's heart.  He endures mocking and derision.  He is suffering and homeless. And yet, although he will never forget this awful time in his life, Jeremiah dares to hope!

Jeremiah declares that the unfailing love of the Lord never ends (vs. 22)!  Here we see a key to coping with anxiety, fear, and depression through faith in God, even when you are overwhelmed with sorrow and trials.  Godly people turn their focus from inward, focusing on themselves and their troubles, to God and His faithfulness.   Do you remember to do this in your trials?  God does not mind your tears, but He is looking for your praise, even in the trials.  Turning to God is the key.  Jeremiah does this even though he feels that God is not hearing his prayers.  Learn from this!

"The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him."  This is Jeremiah's theme and his antidote for the dark night of the soul. Jeremiah reminds himself that God does not abandon people forever and He does not enjoy hurting them or causing them sorrow.  Jeremiah states that nothing can happen without the permission of God.  This is a statement about God's sovereignty.  Accepting God's sovereignty is key to learning how to be content in any and all situations.  Do you focus on God's control over in your life?

Notice that tears stream from Jeremiah's eyes when he looks at the destruction of Jerusalem.  Sorrow and hope are intermingled. Now, after feeling his emotions, rather than running from them Jeremiah feels that God is hearing his prayers. Jeremiah asks God to be his lawyer and plead his case!  This is what Jesus Christ does for us.  He is our advocate before the Father.  Jeremiah is showing faith in the coming Messiah. Jeremiah calls for God's justice to prevail.

Here are the stages that Jeremiah goes through as he copes with his dark night of the soul: 
  1. Admit you are depressed.
  2. Complain to God about your circumstances with honesty.
  3. Remind yourself of God's everlasting qualities and character.
  4. List out His attributes.
  5. Purpose to wait quietly on the Lord.
  6. Submit to God's yoke of discipline on your life. Accept your circumstances.
  7. Remember that God does not abandon His loved ones.
  8. Remember that God is in control.
  9. Feel your emotions.  Don't stuff them.
  10. Call upon God to rescue you from your circumstances and bring justice in this world.
  11. Expect God's answer.
Please notice that God does not abandon a person to these dark nights.  If you are a true believer in God, you will learn to rely on Him in sorrow and depression. This cycle is a cleansing cycle that restores and heals the soul. Do you do this when you are facing trials?  Try to practice this in your life when you are upset or depressed. Please note that clinically depressed, even suicidal people, can love God and not be able to use these techniques to overcome their chemical imbalance. This is for believers who do not have a chemical brain imbalance. Mother Teresa may have had a chemical imbalance that caused her severe depression and yet God used her mightily to love and help those around her who were in need.

Hebrews 1:1-14

Today, we start the tremendous book of Hebrews.  This book is written by a Hebrew Christian to the Hebrew people.  Many scholars believe that it is written by the Apostle Paul to the Jews.  We will deal with how this may be the case as we study the book. The point of this book is to show that Christ is superior and He is not only the High Priest of Israel, but the Son of God and the Son of man mentioned throughout the Old Testament.

To understand Christ's purpose in God's plan is to understand the keys to the eternity itself. Christ is the central character of the Bible.  Through Him all things are held together. At the time when Hebrews is written, which was more than likely before 70 A.D., the Jewish people had a 3600 year history of revelation from God.  After 400 years of silence, God sent His Son to provide the final words to God's story.  The book of Hebrews emphasizes the superiority of Christ's message.  For this reason, Hebrews gives us the breath of Heaven.

As the author begins this epistle, he emphasizes that long ago God spoke in a variety of ways to both the Jewish patriarchs and the prophets.  We may remember that God used dreams, pre-incarnate Christ visits, visions, laws, physical objects, etc. to reveal Himself to mankind in the Old Testament. The author tells us that in these final days, God has spoken through His Son.

Next, we learn that everything made in creation was made through God's Son. Here are some facts about the Son:
  • The Son reflects God's own glory. Vs. 3
  • The Son is the EXACT representation of God. Vs. 3
  • The Son sustains the universe with his power. Vs. 3
  • The Son died to cleanse us from sin and is now sitting at God's right hand, the place of honor. Vs. 3
It can be concluded that the Son is far greater than the angels.  Let's review how He is greater than the angels by looking at what God has revealed about His Son in the Old Testament writings:
  • He is greater because of the fact that God calls him Son in Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14,
  • The Son's throne will endure forever, his royal power is expressed in righteousness, he loves justice and because of this he has been anointed in  Psalm 45:6-7. Anointings are for priests and kings.
  • The Son (Lord) is the one who laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the works of his hands. The earth and heavens will wear out and end, but God's Son is eternal.  He will never stop existing. Psalm 102:25-27
  • God promises to allow the Son to sit at his right hand and will humble his enemies and make His enemies His footstool. Psalm 110:1, Psalm 2
Meanwhile, angels are described this way in the Hebrew Scriptures:
  • Angels are messengers that are swift as the wind and servants made of flaming fire. Psalm 104:4
  • Angels are merely servants sent by God to care for those who receive salvation. 
Did you realize that true angels of God are only sent to true believers?  Any other spirit that comes to someone who is not a Christian is a fallen angel, also known as a demon. 

But let's get back to the point.  The point is that God is not silent about the concept of sending His Son to the earth.  God is not silent about the Son's role in history on this earth.  Angels are created beings who serve God.  God's Son is the Creator of the universe.  There is a big difference.  A person should never be tempted to worship angels.  We are not to pray to angels.  We are not to think that we become angels.

The book of Hebrews teaches us this.  What do you think of angels?

Psalm 102:1-28

Jeremiah could easily recite this psalm in the midst of the dark night of his soul. Notice the pattern for dealing with depression that the psalmist employs.

Proverbs 26:21-22

Quarrelsome people start fights.  Remember how the Apostle Paul wrote so many letters encouraging believers to not be quarrelsome?

What are you learning?  Do you feel the benefits of studying God's Word?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton


  1. I think it is very comforting that even in trials we can have hope that in the end, God wins and wins for us.

  2. That is the key, Linda. So true and such a great hope.