Fear of the Dark Night of the Soul
By Chaplain Doug Samples
Even if you are not familiar with the phrase “the dark night of soul,”
I’m guessing you have spent a few nights there.
And I’m guessing you have friends/loved ones
who live there on a regular basis.
Friends who identify with Paul Simon’s opening line…
“Hello darkness my old friend…”
Whatever fears we might struggle with,
whenever they pile up and overwhelm us
to the point of controlling our behavior and our emotions,
we can face a deep, dark depression!
That is what we call the dark night of the soul.
Why go on?
I don’t belong here!
I feel all alone.
I feel hopeless
I live in a maze with no escape.
Did you know that there is a psalm in the Bible
that describes this dark night of the soul?
It’s Psalm 88
In most psalms where the writer is crying out to God for help,
you can hear the writer’s agony and anguish
but then at the end of the psalm there is a resolve:
- But God is good
- I will trust in God
- You are my Rock and Fortress
- You will rescue me
- Even in our struggles… God is good!
But Psalm 88 is the only one of the 150 psalms
that does not end on a good note. It starts bad and gets worse.
Let me read it for you
God, you’re my last chance of the day.
I spend the night on my knees before you.
Put me on your salvation agenda;
take notes on the trouble I’m in.
I’ve had my fill of trouble;
I’m camped on the edge of hell.
I’m written off as a lost cause,
one more statistic, a hopeless case.
Abandoned as already dead,
one more body in a stack of corpses,
And not so much as a gravestone—
I’m a black hole in oblivion.
You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit,
sunk me in a pitch-black abyss.
I’m battered senseless by your rage,
relentlessly pounded by your waves of anger.
You turned my friends against me,
made me horrible to them.
I’m caught in a maze and can’t find my way out,
blinded by tears of pain and frustration.
I call to you, God; all day I call.
I wring my hands, I plead for help.
Are the dead a live audience for your miracles?
Do ghosts ever join the choirs that praise you?
Does your love make any difference in a graveyard?
Is your faithful presence noticed in the corridors of hell?
Are your marvelous wonders ever seen in the dark,
your righteous ways noticed in the Land of No Memory?
I’m standing my ground, God, shouting for help,
in my prayers every morning, on my knees each daybreak.
Why, God, do you turn a deaf ear?
Why do you make yourself scarce?
For as long as I remember I’ve been hurting;
I’ve taken the worst you can hand out, and I’ve had it.
Your wildfire anger has blazed through my life;
I’m bleeding, black-and-blue.
You’ve attacked me fiercely from every side,
raining down blows till I’m nearly dead.
You made lover and neighbor alike dump me;
the only friend I have left is Darkness.
Almost every message I send out is a message of encouragement.
But today’s word is especially for that person
whose life feels trapped under the darkness of depression.
HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Even when you feel camped on the edge of hell…
Even when you feel stuck in a maze or in a bottomless pit…
Even when you feel like God has turned a deaf ear
and your prayers don’t make it past your ceiling…
You can still call out to God!!!!!
All day I call out to God…
Even when He doesn’t answer… I call out to God
Even when the only friend I have left is darkness…
I call out to God!
If that is you today, I hope you will use this psalm
to voice your cries to God
And if that person isn’t you,
then maybe you know someone
who lives in that darkness.
Maybe you could pass along Psalm 88
and invite them to use it
to tell God how angry they are with Him.
They won’t be the first
and they won’t be the last!
I invite you to use this form to share your prayer request with me.