3 Truths About the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’

As a pastor and therapist, I often encounter people whose lives have been invaded by despair. Often they approach me, not quite sure what's going on. "Maybe I'm going crazy. Or perhaps I'm just depressed. Can you help?" Here are three ways I’ve found to understand these “dark nights of the soul.”

Dark nights provoke deep questions

These seasons of confusion can be a scary experience, for laypeople and pastors alike. The fifteenth-century Christian writer John of the Cross described this experience; he called it la noche oscura, or dark night, that difficult invasion of God's astringent grace that opens us to new realms of spiritual experience. However, it's easy to miss this moment of grace, especially if we fail to ask deeper questions about what God might be up to.

Consider this scenario: a 38-year-old pastor called me for advice. His church wasn't growing. His prayer lacked passion. His preaching seemed to fall on deaf ears. ...

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