Hit after hit after hit…they just seem to keep coming: Russia, inflation, covid, incivility and not to mention all the personal heart ache that we all experience. I must admit it is rather overwhelming right now.
Yesterday I received more bad news about a friend’s health. In the middle of hearing the tragic details, I found my mind wondering how in the world am I going to pray for all the needs that have just surfaced in the past few weeks. This is one of those seasons where a tsunami of heartbreak keeps flooding into my life, and I know others are experiencing the same.
There is an intensity to each one of these that is unusual like the beloved young man (under 30) who just lost his life skiing in the Tetons or the young mother of two who has recently been given the news that she has a rare, aggressive cancer that will most likely end her life over the next year or my friend who had asymptomatic covid, over the last two weeks, has discovered that her lungs are full of blood clots or the man who has walked out on his sweet wife and three children because his marriage vows no longer mean anything to him or my friend who has lost 30 friends to covid over the past two years and this is only part of the list. Lately, I have had multiple conversations with people who do not have my list, but they have their own that is filled with devastating stories.
I would bet good money that those reading this blog either have their own list or they themselves are personally experiencing their dark night of the soul. It is in the devastation that spiritual darkness can envelop us. It may start innocently with questioning God, but too quickly we can slip into blaming God and demanding answers, as if it is our right. These are times when it is so easy for me to lose my way.
Given all that is going on in my life and so many others, I thought that it would be good if we could collectively remember those things that are true:
Remember, we will never know all the answers to our questions.
Remember, we are not alone. Disappointment and heart ache are shared space that at some point we all occupy.
Remember, Psalm 66 promises that God hears our cries, and that Psalm 34 says that God is close to the brokenhearted. We are not alone!
Remember, that Psalm 23 tells us we can be comforted and live without fear in the valley. Once again, we are not alone because Thou art with me.
Remember, as children of God we are not without hope. Our hope is not here on this earth, but in the things of eternity. The lyrics of the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus say it like this, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of his glory and grace.
In the midst of emotional upheaval, high anxiety, and overwhelming sadness it is easy for us to lose our way and forget to whom we belong. Every person who has risen to the top of their field from the professional athlete to an accomplished executive would remind us that when we get off track we always go back to the basics. As believers returning the basics is taking to heart the remembrances listed above as well as spiritual disciplines like those that our church has been making a point of emphasis lately.
The whole campaign of prayer, practice, people is not some cute marketing slogan rather is it modeling for us what living missionally looks like even when we are overwhelmed. Each week we are given a little snippet to incorporate into our own spiritual walk. If you have not joined in on this, I would encourage you to do so. These are small but significant ways in which we can enrich and revive our spiritual lives. We have been praying for our neighbors with various folks giving us prayers to consider as we cultivate this discipline. We are about to shift over to praying for our vocations. In the area of practice, we have been doing Scripture memory work and now are about to shift over to confessions. Once again, I would strongly encourage you to add these things to your spiritual disciplines throughout the week.
For some of us this may provide a healthy restart, but for others maybe you have done so little for a long time that it is paralyzing to consider where to start, and this provides a starting point. For those who have a vibrant walk, it is good to join in on a corporate effort of the body of Christ. Incorporating scripture and prayer into your daily routine will allow us to habituate the Word of God in our hearts and bring to mind more readily the important trues that keep us on track.
If you are experiencing your own dark night of the soul, know that even with an escalating amount of heartbreak and sadness all around us, the effort to remember what is true and to nurture our spiritual disciplines will not be in vain. Instead, it will as Paul says allow us to run the race that has been set before us. It will create a light that cannot be dimmed by the darkness. This worthy journey does not eliminate our grief, but it will order our loves so that we can echo these words from Joni Eareckson Tada, “God allows what He hates in order to accomplish what He loves.”
Crosland Stuart, of Crosland & Company, LLC, works with The Collaborative
on vocational guilds and content creation. Additionally, she also works in the areas of
foundation consulting, communications, and is a literary agent.