I hear a lot of people using the term “Dark Night” to describe a multitude of different things going on in their life irrespective to whether or not it is a psychological, emotional, physical or spiritual problem. This is a term made popular by St. John of the Cross in the 16th Century, and he had a very specific idea in mind. Because of the the confusion I’ve written a “Dear St. John” letter. It’s dedicated to those who are currently going through a “Dark Night” and have never had the words to describe it before.
You sound rather confused about all that is going on. Let me try to explain what might be happening in your life right now. It sounds like you were really experiencing God in everything you were doing. You couldn’t get enough of God and the things of God. St. John of the Cross and other Fathers of the faith have called this season of your life “consolation.” Consolation usually happens when a person turns to God for the first time. In an effort to create new interests, God is gifting you with the pleasure of Himself while you participate in new religious activities. Whereas in the past you might have only been interested in friends, family or various forms of entertainment or media, now God is trying to create new interests; activities aimed towards the things of Him.
This would explain why you might have loved the Scriptures so much. This also describes why you could love reading about others’ thoughts about God, and even be tempted to learn Greek! The important thing to know about this time is – it is a gift from God. Nothing you were doing, or abstaining to do caused these feelings. It wasn’t because you finally figured out the right way to live, or found the correct formula for happiness; it was because God graciously decided to make these activities easy and fun while you were just a beginner in the faith.
It sounds like God thinks you are ready for the next season. You should take this as an encouragement. God thinks you are mature enough to grow to a new stage of relationship with Him. This next stage is initiated by “desolation.” This time is characterized by a “felt absence” of God’s presence while doing the same normal religious activities that used to produce pleasure. The thing to note about this time is it is a “felt absence” of God’s presence. It is not a real absence of God’s presence. God is always with you. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you.
The question you can ask yourself in this time is, “Do I love God or do I love the pleasure I get from God?” This is a tough question to ask while you are still feeling God’s pleasure on you, but now that it is absent you can really take inventory of your heart. And this is where the next stage of relationship begins. God is moving you from “love of God for pleasure’s sake” to “love of God for love’s sake.” …
[Part 2: Resisting the crazy temptations of a Dark Night]
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