To listen to some radio and television speakers, you would think that suffering, pain, and even despair are foreign, or at least should be foreign, experiences to the life of the Christian. But throughout the Scriptures as well as the history of the church, men and women of faith have experienced their “dark night of the soul,” a phrase made popular by the sixteenth-century poet, John of the Cross.
For some, such a period accompanies a struggle against sin (see Psalm 22) or follows physical exhaustion. For others, it follows intense prayer answered by God with a “no.” But for many, as with Elijah, it actually follows a time of spiritual success (see 1 Kings 19).
Perhaps you or someone you love are crying, “Save me!” and “Help my unbelief!” Or maybe like David you’re asking, “Why have you forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1). As I’ve talked with hundreds, if not thousands, of ministry leaders, I’ve heard the desolation and despair uttered during times of such deep darkness. Sometimes the best we can do is listen and state by our very presence, “You are not alone.”
In this issue of Kindred Spirit, we explore the theme of drawing near when God seems far. Retired DTS professor Dr. Roy Zuck walks us through David’s cry of seeming abandonment echoed by Jesus on the cross. Lesa Engelthaler reflects on her own experience through a “dark night” to provide suggestions for helping those who feel deserted by God. And DTS grad Mark McGinniss speaks from a place of enduring one of the most physically painful conditions known to humanity to declare that even there, God is present.
With this issue we also feature a profile of one of our grads, Malachy Williams, who seeks to use her gifts at a New York City television station to reach those still walking in complete darkness without Christ.
With the new year comes the launch of an expanded online section of resources on the Kindred Spirit website. Now you can access more articles, excerpts, and video links on our featured topic, as well as many other subjects at www.dts.edu/ks.
In his book on Malachi, Restless Faith, DTS alumnus Winn Collier tells of a long, dry spell in his own life in which God seemed absent. “Uncomfortable as the silence, especially God’s silence, is,” he concludes, “it is mandatory for the Christian pilgrimage. Jesus required the wilderness and the garden—periods of grave silence, deep sorrow, and utter aloneness—to clearly hear the Father.”
Yet even in such a difficult place, we can remember the words of Moses echoed by the writer of Hebrews, “The LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6; Hebr. 13:5).