Have you ever felt like God is so far away that you are sure you must be "cut off" from Him? Have you experienced what some call "the dark night of the soul"? Have you been in a pit that you could not climb out of but by the grace of God. A strong and mighty hand was the only thing that would suffice to deliver you?
You are not alone. It is said by several speakers and authors (usually those who have gone on before us) that God's people will inevitably experience such a time.
I did. 1999...I "went in" to a pit of depression, anxiety and panic attacks. No matter what I tried, what I read, how much I tried to "Tell Myself the Truth", or quote scripture, I remained in such a state. For a year I struggled, and during the times when I had other women meeting with me, my head would stay above water, but when school started the fall of 2000, the women were too busy to meet, and I was once again alone in a darkness it would take me too long to describe. That fall was "the dark night of my soul".
I slept very little, the insomnia I had was beyond what I ever knew a human to be able to go through. And if you have experienced oppression, you understand and agree with me that it is in the most vulnerable dark place where the enemy comes in and hurls accusations at you and tells you what a loser you are, and attacks you with whatever works against you. I was in the deep shadows of unbelief, fear and condemnation. The hair literally stood up on the back of my neck a few times when I saw the filth of my soul...
And yet... a thread of faith was ever present. It was in the moments of deep despair and near hopelessness when the Lord would whisper a truth that I could stand on...like..."when we are faithless, He will be faithful for He cannot disown Himself." I knew I had no faith. My husband had shouted it at me one morning in his frustration with my lack of sleep. BUT then...the Lord whispered, "I have given you a measure of faith." Always coming through for me ever so quietly, and sometimes very rare it seemed, but just when I needed it most...The Lord's voice. When I felt crazy, I heard "but we have the mind of Christ." When I felt I had no place going to church, I was too pathetic, I heard, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."~always a whisper.
It was in the darkness where I died to my self. I learned that the things I expected of myself, and the things others expected from me could not be fulfilled by me. I am powerless. Without the Lord and His power, I am a clay pot. Without His power, His life in me, I am an empty vessel. Barren. Dead.
It was in this darkness where I found life. True life. Not life by human power...for all flesh fails. But Holy Spirit power. The ability to let go of what I could not hold on to...responsibility, creating, or sustaining anything on my own, to the freedom to exist with the life of the Spirit of God in me, and the power of God to work through me, to give Him the responsibility...the credit...the glory for anything good in my life, and to release the disappointments to Him to make into something for His purposes.
I began to see a counselor at some point in the initial year of my anxiety, and after several times seeing him, cried to the Lord, "God, this is going to take 100 years!!!!!! Your word says that You are the Wonderful Counselor, please help me!" ...So I sat with the Lord for one to three hours every day for... well, it has been 10 years. Reading His word, talking to Him, listening to Him. He took me back to things in the past, he brought me to places of pain, and challenge in the years that followed, and gradually He has set me free. I am totally free today. His truth has and continues set me free.
What brings me great joy today is to tell you that God had a purpose in allowing me in the pit. When I was there I struggled with all the same issues you probably do/did...Was it something I did? Do I need to do something? Is there something I am missing? Does God love me still? I mean, I know in my head, but my heart just cannot seem to believe it or receive it...
But now...the ability to understand the pit, to encourage and love people through it, to know that God is doing something in the darkness that could never be done in the light. Like the seed that goes into the ground and dies before it becomes a plant. You, child of God, will experience a death that the life of Christ might be made manifest in you. You see, we limit God with our striving, and we strive naturally, only by a work of God in our lives will we be able to lay down our striving in order for Him to rise up in us.
The Bible says we need to take up our cross daily. It is not a one time death. It is a daily choice, but there is a time, a season of pruning that God will take you through to get you ready for the ministry He wants to do through your life. Some might go through a couple of pits, some might be darker than others...but all of us must experience a measure of darkness in order for the jar of clay to be broken (our flesh) and the light of Jesus to shine out and bring true life into this world...
Look up, sister, for your redemption draws near!