Sunday, May 14, 2017

WORD OF LIFE, PART 20: "DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL- BUT BREAKTHROUGH COMING!"

Is there such a things as the "dark night of the soul"?  Some would defintely agree with this.  Even the strongest believer can stumble into a dark hole and come face to face with a crisis of Faith. This is nothing abnormal. Is there such a thing as Despair in the Believer? You bet there is. Apart from being a saved and sanctified child of the Living God, the faithful are still human beings, in a fallen world. The thing we have to consider is our response and then God's role in emerging revived and renewed when we run off a spiritual cliff. The Bible is full of examples for us, of great souls who suffered under great physical, mental and even spiritual torture.

Jeremiah is called the "Weeping Prophet". There is an entire book of the Old Testament called Lamentations which is exactly as it sounds. It contains the wailing and weeping of a man who simply believed, did what God told him to do and paid some heavy costs for it, as a man. The thing was that his "lament" was not about himself, but his people. Does the lost nature of the people around you and I cause us to weep and be scared over their eternity away from God, because they keep rejecting Him? If it does not, we are in worse shape as the Body of Christ than we thought!

The Apostle Paul spent most of his life, post-conversion to Christ, being persecuted and in situations which would have destroyed the modern western believer. Christians in China, the Middle East and Asia face the same thing and worse. He said "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies" (2 Cor. 4:7-10).

Please, let us look closer at Paul's response here from this passage:

 ~ Afflicted (attacked, sometimes in bad health or slammed by life in so many ways. YET - NOT CRUSHED. Sometimes physical pain or a variety of illnesses can easily distract us from our previous joyful walk with the Lord. How do we keep from being depressed and the feeling of being hit by a 2000 pound boulder? Community. God created us to fellowship with the saints, from our immediate families to those in our churches and small groups. Here is where we need our fellow saints to come around us and lift us up in prayer and encouragement.Do not neglect the fellowship of the saints.

 ~ Perplexed (in other words "WHY, LORD?....Why ME, Lord?").  YET NOT DRIVEN TO DESPAIR. There is nothing which we suffer in this life, which people from ALL backgrounds have not experienced since our time on this planet began 5777 years ago (from the current Hebrew Calendar). Solomon said it best all through Ecclesiastes - "there is nothing new under the sun". How we deal with it and ALLOW others to help us cope, will decide how long we stay in the dead zone and not allow ourselves to partake in a "pity-party".
 ~ Persecuted (from the extreme hatred and evil we see in non-Christian countries to judges/politicians forcing Christians to disregard their beliefs in the West). YET NOT FORSAKEN, because we know WHO is with us. We are a people sealed by the Holy Spirit and the world only has so much power against the Godly.
 ~ Struck Down (financially in harsh economic times; physically by evil or ill-health or morally by a corrupt culture). YET NOT DESTROYED. Modern culture and society can only distract and destroy us and our children if we allow them to. The Key is Faithfulness to Abba Father and the Word of God. The lock is guarding our hearts and instructing our children to not partake in the evil and cultural rut and filth of these times.

We see this in the next section of our Journey through Psalm 119:
Psalm 119:153-160
Resh.
153   Look upon my affliction and rescue me, for I do not forget Your law.
154   Plead my cause and redeem me; revive me according to Your word.
155   Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek Your statutes.
156   Great are Your mercies, O Lord; revive me according to Your ordinances.
157   Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies.
158   I behold the treacherous and loathe them, because they do not keep Your word.
159   Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.
160   The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.

These verses are almost completely similar to what Paul was talking about in the passage we just looked at above (from 2 Corinthians 4:7-10). 
Psalm 119:
Verse 153 tells of the affliction and need to be rescued from the "dark night of the soul" or the dark place or traps which have befallen us.  YET we do not forget God's Word in the Bible and His Promises. We know from studying the Bible that the Law actually gives life.

Verse 154 tells us that when we cry out "Why Me?" we have an Advocate with the Father who will plead for us. Scripture and the Holy Spirit CONFIRMS that this Advocate IS JESUS! THEN, this same verse informs we can ask for a renew of Spirit and the Word (the Bible) and the Word Who became Flesh (Jesus) will most certainly do so! (P.S. Question to self: "Is Jesus your Lord" or are you?)

Verse 155 tells us of the sure judgment and eternal disaster facing the rich, poor, middle income or the powerful and those who reject God and persecute His Elect. So let that alone and let's move on. We ask "how long shall the wicked reign"? Well, they will face God on That Day too....and will have a different final destination. Do NOT dwell on that but pray for their eyes to open before it is too late for them.

Verse 156 reminds us to keep our FOCUS ON HIM because in the midst of this darkness, despair, depression and even death, He is willing and able to bring us around to His side, heal, reveal goodness, while He conceal our hurts. He is a good, good God and full of Love, Mercy, Grace, Long-suffering, patience and Kindness. Take Him at His Word.

Verses 157 and 158 tells us that we MUST understand the spiritual battle we are in. We are horribly misinformed by weak teaching if we do not recognize this truth. Read Ephesians 6:12 and be alert at all times. Hate ALL forms of evil and do not fellowship even with fellow Christians when the Holy Spirit reveals what they are about to do can lead to potential sin and ruin. The enemy, the devil, is looking for an opportunity to destroy us. Don't let him.

Verses 159 and 160 can be summed up like this: the weeping Prophet Jeremiah's despair, weeping and hurt over the destruction in the book of Lamentations are so intense and stunning. YET in the midst of all of that, here is what the Holy Spirit led Jeremiah to write in Lamentations 3:22-24: "The LORD'S lovingkindnesses (mercy and grace) indeed never cease, For His compassion never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."
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