• Richard Parrish

Dark Nights



You may have heard the expression: “A dark night of the soul.”


The phrase is often understood as experiences in life that are difficult. I think it’s fair to assume that we don’t escape life without struggle.


We recognize that there are seasons when we have more questions than answers, experience more suffering than joy, and encounter more problems than pleasure. And…


… When the weight of trials crushes our soul, hope seems obscured!


It’s in those moments that the phrase “dark night of the soul” gives language to our emotions.

This expression is attributed to a 16th-century Spanish mystic and poet, St. John of the Cross. In his poem, he narrates how darkness encourages our soul toward a spiritual union with God.


Isaiah speaks to Israel – who is experiencing their own dark night: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God?” [1] The point is…


… Even in our darkest moments, God’s light shines, illuminating our path, and giving us direction when we cannot see clearly.


Possibly, you have a challenge that is perplexing you. Maybe, you have more questions than answers. The good news is: God’s light of hope is shining – even in your darkness.


Isaiah reminds Israel – and us:

“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.” [2]

Weariness of the soul does not discriminate. “Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted…” [3]


If you – or someone you know – is encountering a “dark night experience” the best thing we can do is to “wait for the Lord” (Is. 40:31).


Our strength is discovered as we wait on the Lord. We cannot soar until we have sufficiently stayed in the presence of God. (Is. 40:31)


Praying for you!

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Is 40:27.


[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Is 40:28–29.


[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Is 40:30.