Job 38: And now, finally God answered Job.
Of all the losses Job suffered, his loss of contact with God may have been the most difficult. In Job’s life God has always been close by. In good times he’s praised the Lord and in bad times he’s cried out to God. At all times he’s felt his presence. Then, when a series of disasters that couldn’t possibly be coincidence come, God goes silent. Job cries out to God repeatedly; sometimes in pain, sometimes in fear, and even sometimes in anger but God remains distant and unresponsive. While Job’s story is out on the extreme edge of human experience, facing times when God seems to have withdrawn from our lives is not. David, in the Psalms, often complains that God is unreachable. Even Jesus on the cross says he’s been forsaken. Through the centuries Christians have talked about “the dark night of the soul” or “the winter of the soul.” These are times when God appears to leave us on our own. Why would our Heavenly Father do that? I think the answer is that he wants us to learn to seek him rather than seek the feeling we associate with his presence. Every worshipper likes it when God “feels” close. When life is hard we especially want to feel that God is near. One of the ways in which the Lord helps us grow in our relationship with him is by removing the emotional props and leaving us with nothing but our faith. There’s a big difference between “feeling” that the Lord is with us and simply “knowing” he is there. That’s the level of living he desires for us. Job’s winter of the soul is about to pass as “finally God answers.” Many thoughtful Christians have found that God puts us through times of darkness that we may learn to focus on him rather than on his blessings. Then, when the lesson is learned, “finally” God draws close to us once again.
Take Away: Experiencing a “dark night of the soul” doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve forsaken the Lord and that he has rejected us. It may mean he’s helping us to live without the “training wheels” of feeling.