Many people of faith speak about dry or dark times. Even Mother Theresa was found to refer to what was called the "dark night of the soul." I often wonder about these times as Friends where there seems no vocal ministry to be found, no leadings and difficulty discerning abounds. They are the times where we find ourselves waiting and hoping to hear any voice from God.
About three years ago or so now, I found myself desperately seeking any potential sparks of light. I’ve come to believe for myself after experiencing such, that throughout these extended dry times God remains the same and is always with us. That unchanging Spirit is the root we must step back and cling to with patience and devotion. God is love, not a mean God that turns on us, but rather a loving father who often works things mystically in our lives. He uses these times to draw us unto him and to thirst for him until we are experientially one. It felt quite barren at the time though.
I do not believe he intends to burden us further, but to eventually, in his perfect timing give us even greater Light. It is a preparation time of storing up greater strength and deeper knowledge to be used for his kingdom. Isaac Pennington wrote, "There is a time to want as well as a time to abound while we are in this world. And the times of wanting, as well as abounding are greatly advantageous to us."
Perhaps the most difficult to deal with is the feeling of abandonment. It feels like God has definitely gone MIA, missing in action. In reality it is really just a lonely, silent time–a place that is fertile ground to begin to rely less on feelings and more on trust and promises. Isn’t that faith–that we trust even when every single outward reality tells us there is absolutely no reason to. I felt for an entire year that I simply must in the end be obedient and blindly trust God through the darkness. It taught me how to wait. I am still learning to wait, but isn’t that what us Friends do?
None of us truly knows the mind of God, unless the Holy Spirit shows us. This has become a tenet of my faith. I believe the Holy Spirit has come to teach his people today and this is not to say it is an ending but a mere beginning. We must be open to continue to love, trust, obey and wait no matter how long his silences last.
In hindsight, I can see that I was granted protection, and renewed spiritual growth and intimacy that I lacked prior to this time though I have far to go. I can now see some fruits, though at the time I cried out like David did in the Psalms to God to please not hide his face from me. It was a comfort to me to know David complained too and that the Truth was that God hadn’t left him, in fact He said, I will never leave or forsake you repeatedly. I knew objectively that God was with me, but did not feel that mercy that is new every morning or answers to prayers. Certainly Job felt some of this dryness too, yet all the while remaining faithful. I think it’s quite biblical and I think it is important that these times are spoken about so that others can know that the light may dim, but will never ever go out. It’s often through such a time of hardship that one may be given more understanding of that which is Eternal.
"Light arises in the darkness... He is gracious and compassionate and righteous." Psalm 112:4