Have you ever had a dark night of the soul, a time when it just seemed everyone, even God Himself, had turned their backs on you?
Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. You wonder if things are ever going to get any better.
You are so on edge that even when your three-year-old accidentally spills his milk, you are sure he is doing it just to give you one more thing to take care of.
You read the Bible and the words run together. You try to write out your thoughts and nothing makes sense.
You pray and your prayers seem to just bounce off the ceiling. You scream, “Are you even up there God? What are you doing to me?”
It seems like a dark cloud has descended on you. You just want to die.
Don’t despair. There is hope.
Jesus Himself went through something very similar. Not only was He, an innocent man, beaten, made to carry an extremely heavy wooden cross though the streets of His city, but He was nailed to a cross and left to die.
In the midst of that day, scriptures say, “Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”1
In the midst of a day where everything seems to have gone very, very wrong, the world goes black. God turned out the lights, signifying He Himself could not watch what was happening. Jesus, knowing this, screams, “Dad, why have you turned your back on Me? Remember who I am?”
And then what seems to be the ultimate blow. Jesus dies.
It was the darkest day in history. God’s people had killed God’s son.
Wait, though, hold on. There would be hours, days where He lay in the grave.
And Then Sunday Came
Sunday morning came and when Mary Magdalene and other Mary went to the tomb to see the tomb. They went to grieve. They were also having a dark night of the soul. Their worlds had just come crashing down around them. Nothing seemed to make sense. They believed Jesus was who He said He was, but still. He died and that wasn’t supposed to happen, was it?
Imagine their surprise when instead an earthquake happened and the stone at the entrance of the tomb rolled back and an angel perched on top.
He told them not to be afraid and that Jesus wasn’t there. “He is risen!”2
Sure enough, it was true because the next person they run into is Jesus Himself. He tells them to go and tell the disciples and Peter that He is risen.
What looked to be the darkest day of all had just turned into the brightest.
Jesus Beat The System
He endured the physical and mental agony because He knew what He was doing. He knew Sunday was coming.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Take this cup from Me. Even so not My will but Thine be done.”3 He was God. He knew the plan. He was man. He knew it would hurt.
He was saying, “OK, I know what we decided, but I also know that being human right now, it’s gonna really hurt. Have we exhausted every detail? Is there any other way?”
But He knew even as He prayed, there was no other way to deliver us from our dark night of the soul.
Psalm 22 Foreshadows the Messiah
And when He prayed, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” He was reminding those present of the first line of Psalm 22, which starts with those same words. The words of the Psalmist David, a foreshadowing of the redemption work of Christ.
In the Psalm, David reiterates his troubles including all his bones feeling like they are out of joint, being weak, his mouth being parched, his tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth, being close to death, people casting lots for his clothes, “the congregation of the wicked enclosing” on him, his hands and feet being pierced.4
He cries out for the Lord to deliver him. Then he praises God knowing God will not ignore those who are afflicted, not hide His face from the affliction.5
And finally in the last verse of the Psalm, David says, speaking of the Messiah, “They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this.”6
Notice the similarity to the last words of Jesus as He died. “It is finished.”7 The Psalm was a prophesy, that those in the future will know He has done a redemptive work. The John passage declares that he has done it.
Jesus Knows Our Dark Night Of The Soul
He lived it on earth. His disadvantage was knowing that He was going to die. His advantage was knowing why.
His death would take away our need for blood sacrifice. It would usher those of us who accept His death as a sacrifice for our sins. And His resurrection as the ultimate victory over death.
Accepting the life Jesus brings, though, does not mean life will be easy. If we are identifying with the life of Jesus our lives will have difficulty, but like Jesus we know the purpose is to share His life with others.
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”8
He Never Leaves Us
Even when things look bleak and we have no idea where God is or if He is hearing us, we can know He is.
“Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, ‘I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,’ we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?”9
No matter what we go through here on earth, it can’t hold a candle to what Jesus went through.
Don’t lose hope. Your Sunday’s coming.
1 Matthew 27:45-46, NIV
2 Matthew 28:6, NIV
3 Mark 14:36, KJV
4 Psalm 22:14-18, NKJV
5 Psalm 22:24, NKJV
6 Psalm 22:31, NKJV
7 John 19:30, KJV
8 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, NIV
9 Hebrews 13:5-6, MSG
10 Hebrews 12:4
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.