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 ...