The “dark night of the soul” is a term coined by St. John of the Cross.
St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) is known for his writings. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish Literature. He was canonized as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is one of the 36 Doctors of the Church -1
In layman’s terms and theologically speaking, it is a period of time in life where a soul is brought to the breaking point and forced to change.
It is like playing chess with God. He is the Master, so no matter what move you make He is already 10 moves ahead. In the dark night of the soul, He has anticipated each move and you can only make the moves He allows.
Why? Because He loves you as a Father loves His son. He knows you’re blind and fumbling in darkness. He knows that you’re suffering at the hands of the enemy… He knows how weak and lost you are… And so in the dark night, He reaches out and grabs your hand. Blindly, you are led through darkness into His Light.
Make no mistake, it is not without much suffering that you must pass through this Dark Night. There are interior infections that must be purified. There is looking in the mirror and seeing your soul, though darkly, seeing all that is detestable within, holding oneself accountable for the past moves we’ve made… There is the annihilation of all that you knew yourself to be, all the interior illnesses that have eaten away at your soul, the overshadowing of your light within…
It is the most beautiful gift a soul can receive… to be led into a dark night of the soul. It only takes as long as necessary. Because like the Good Father, He doesn’t let go of His son… He allows His son to make his own decisions and choices, but as the Chess Master, He will deliberately and lovingly manipulate your chess moves to where you best belong. He wants you to find your purpose and follow through making use of the gifts He has given you. He is in control, and the sooner one understands this the sooner one can begin to heal within and become the extraordinary soul they were designed to be.
It certainly isn’t easy. It is like climbing a mountain sometimes. Sometimes the only step you have is grasping onto a jutting rock and pulling yourself up to the next step. Sometimes it is so painful that we must sit and rest for awhile. The key is not to give up. Keep reaching for Him. You will not have run the race in vain.
When we are taken by the hand and led blindly through this dark night the sufferings we endure ultimately serve as the very salve to heal our troubled souls. Great change is wrought in our lives but even more so within our souls. We taste the light and it becomes the drug we crave. We chase what our soul was designed for and we longingly desire to acquire more of this light as we continue through the strange delight within the suffering.
We are faced with a crossroads. Standing at this intersection of life, we can not turn around and go back in life, we can’t change the past. We also know we can’t keep going on the same path… The same path of destruction we have been on. We must take a right or a left. The Chess Master has now reached out His Hand, He asks you to blindly take the right hand turn with Him. He provides the path to peace even though it doesn’t “feel” like it. To take a left turn is to deny Him and give yourself over to the enemy.
Of course He doesn’t wish to be a tyrant and force His Will upon you. He gives you the choice. But to have been given that moment… A moment of truth in the journey… He saves your life and your soul from destruction.
As humans we pay so much attention to feelings and emotions. We tend to trust and follow these feelings, we act upon emotions.
It is my most earnest suggestion that a soul who has come to endure the dark night, begin to study what is known as “Discernment of Spirits”. Once you begin to understand, through new eyes and ears, a whole new world opens up to you and you’re no longer spiritually blind and deaf.
Your thoughts are not always your own, my friend. Many times we act upon thoughts and feelings that have been suggested to us without our even realizing it. This is the purpose of the dark night of the soul. To cleanse and purify our lives, our hearts, our souls in order to see and hear. It is a great change wrought within which spills over into our life and actions.
Be assured that NOTHING goes unnoticed by Him. Every tear you’ve ever shed, every single suffering you’ve endured, every painful thought is known to Him. He has such an indescribable profound love right there within you waiting to heal all those wounds acquired throughout life.
Spiritual warfare is very real. Discernment is key. Thank God for your Dark Night of the Soul… For, how can one appreciate the light if they know not the darkness?
Amore e bene
-1 ref. taken from Wikipedia