“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8).
LIKE PAUL, WE OCCASIONALLY PASS THROUGH ORDEALS SO SERIOUS AND SEEMINGLY HOPELESS THAT WE “DESPAIR EVEN OF LIFE.” It is not that our faith has failed or we’ve lost our hope of heaven. It is just that, as far as the immediate crisis is concerned, it doesn’t look like it is going to be resolved without traumatic loss, or even death, on our part. Maybe there is a way out, but we can’t see it right now. As in the case of Job’s suffering, we may be called upon to suffer without the aid of any explanation or assurance as to the outcome, except that God will be the ultimate victor in the end. Between now and then, we may find ourselves “in the dark.”
The dead of the night is a hard time to endure. Things that may be bearable when the sun is shining are much harder to bear in the night hours. That is why those who suffer from depression dread the closing hours of the day, when the daylight begins to vanish and the darkness closes in. In the dark, pain and sorrow and discouragement are multiplied, especially in the wee hours that we call the “dead” of the night. These are dangerous hours, when we find ourselves much more vulnerable to the assaults of Satan.
But we can experience some “dark nights of the soul” even when the sun is shining. Literal nights may be hard, but there is a darkness we often have to deal with that has nothing to do with whether the physical sun is shining. Who among us has not passed through something like Job’s darkness, a time when God is silent and not even one other person is willing to say anything but a discouraging word? The dead of the night is a hard time to endure.
But what is especially hard is the continuance of such times. We think it might help if we knew when the problem would be resolved, one way or the other, but no such cut-off date is given to us. The deadness and the darkness just go on and on and on.
Well, God has not guaranteed that we won’t pass through such murky waters in this world. What He has promised is that He is our Redeemer. All will be well, in the end. And so, we endure.
“In a really dark night of the soul it is always three in the morning, day after day” (F. Scott Fitzgerald).