After nearly 30 years as a ministry leader and pastor's wife, I went through an experience that some would describe as a dark night of the soul.

In the past when I heard someone complaining of enduring a dark night, I was less than compassionate. What a drama queen, I'd think. Everyone goes through spiritual slumps. What's the big deal?

But then I experienced one that I couldn't escape. I was humbled.

My dark night was sparked by a series of unanswered prayers. Actually, my prayers were answered—but definitely not in the way I had hoped. To understand my disillusionment, you need to know a bit about my personality. I'm a life-long activist, a habitual doer. I can take anything but standing still.

So when God blocked my "doings," which I was sure I was supposed to do, I became frustrated. One "no" from God was followed by another, and another. Then an extended stretch of divine silence shook my faith, triggering a dark night that lasted three years.

I had never experienced such silence from God. Sure, I had been distant from him, but the distance had always been my fault, born of my rebellion or indifference. This was different. I was reaching out to God, but couldn't feel his presence. Prayers stuck in my throat, or bounced back at me off the ceiling.

Comedian Susan Isaacs tells of a similar experience: "All my life I had felt God's presence … even when I pushed him away he remained the still, small squatter I could not evict. Now I could hear nothing, feel nothing, know nothing. The squatter had vacated."

Mother Teresa describes the pain: "I am told God loves me—and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview
To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.
Already a Leadership Journal subscriber?
or for full digital access.
Fall 2011: Dark Nights of the Soul  | Posted
Counseling  |  Faith  |  Growth, Spiritual  |  Pain  |  Renewal  |  Silence  |  Soul
Read These Next
See Our Latest