Night. I like the night. The quiet of nothingness. The opportunity to clear all distractions out of the way so I can listen to that still small voice that belongs to God. However, for some people night is not something to look forward to; it is something they fear. It is a time of darkness, of loneliness, or of isolation.
But nights can also be something else. John of the Cross felt “nights” were those moments of “wounding, failure, or darkness...that helped you move from state to state in life.” While certainly not pleasant, night can be a time of significant growth in one’s faith. It can be in those times, when we do not have enough of ourselves to get us through, where we are forced to rely purely on the strength of God, that we can experience a deepening of our faith.
You see, I do not believe that God ever wants any of us to experience these dark nights. I do not believe that God ever wants any of God’s creation to endure a moment of sadness. God simply loves us too much! But God understands that is not realistic. Either due to our own decisions, or for reasons absolutely out of our control and influence, we will each have seasons of night in our lives. We will each experience night, some darker than others, at some point during our journey here. But what God does promise, is that if we allow it, we will not walk alone. God will endure each and every one of those nights with us, right by our side. But there is more! Not only will God walk with us, feeling each and every emotion that we feel, but God will redeem those dark nights. While God does not want us to endure those nights, God will bring some good from the experience.
When I was running from my call into the ministry, I spent ten years in retail management. For a long time, I viewed that time away from God as wasted time. I rarely went to church, I never read the Bible or any kind of devotionals. In fact, the only time I spoke to God was in the midst of despair or trial and it was just mired with pleas for help. I never gave God the time to speak to me…I just cried to God. However, as I have reflected on that season of night, I have learned many things. It was not wasted time, I learned techniques and tools that have benefited me in my ministry. From Best Buy back to God. (Maybe there is a sermon in there somewhere).
One of the things that draw me to God, daily, is that power of God’s redemption. We have talked about that redemption a bit in worship recently. God does not cause bad things to happen to us, but God will bring redemption through them. God will take those nights of our lives and bring good out of them. God does not cause them in order to bring good, but God will bring good nevertheless.
I have no special prayers or advice to give you to avoid those dark nights in your life, they will come. But I do have encouragement to offer you. Stay close to God, stay close to your church family and your small groups. Allow God to speak to you through them so that you may feel the reassurance of God’s never failing presence walking with you. And trust. Trust that God will never leave you, but will redeem you, each and every time.
Have a great week and I will see you Sunday,