He went to church and prayed for guidance, begging God to bring forgiveness into his heart. He would kneel before the creche, the crucifix, and wonder how and why all these things had happened. At night he would dream of black threads twisting in the air and slipping into his body from afar. Though he bowed his head and trembled at the funeral, though he spoke kindly with the priests and repeated to himself a thousand times that God was good and that the manifestations of evil that come to men are ultimately explicable in some divine way, His wisdom greater than what any of them would ever know, Ives felt a great numbness descending over him.
Yes, after his son's death, Ives really battles with God. Ives doesn't reject God publicly, but, in his heart, he questions God's goodness. It's what Saint John of the Cross called a dark night of the soul. Ives feels abandoned, alone, as if God has somehow turned away. God's back is the universe, and it's empty, devoid of happiness.
I have a friend right now who's experiencing a dark night. He recently realized he was an addict and has been an addict for quite some time. There are certain epiphanies in life that are easy. I need to lose a few pounds--easy. I think I may need bifocals--easy. And then there are tough epiphanies. I need to declare bankruptcy--tough. I have cancer--tough. I am an addict--tough.
My friend doesn't realize that he's already taken the most difficult step: admitting that he has a problem. Now that he's reached this point, as long as he remains honest with himself and his therapists/doctors, he is well on the way to becoming a recovering addict.
It won't be easy. There's a great deal of shame and self-hatred that needs to be expunged from his emotional vocabulary. He's at about 2 a.m. in his dark night of the soul. It's going to get a little darker before sunrise. Yet, I am proud of my friend. He's a good person. Loving. Generous. Spiritually connected. He has the strength to overcome this obstacle.
Right now, he doesn't think that God will forgive him for his problem. He thinks he's unlovable, unforgivable. Of course, I know that my friend is wrong. I know that God has already forgiven him for everything he's done. That's the way He works. My friend simply needs to lift himself up to God, and trust. Through trust, God can do some pretty amazing things.
If you're reading this post and going through your own dark night of the soul, I want you to know that God has forgiven you. He loves you. And you need to trust in Him.
That's Saint Marty's wisdom for tonight.
A Psalm of David
Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.
2. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.
3. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
4. Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
5. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
6. Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.
7. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD.
8. Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
9. The meek will he guide in judgement: and the meek will he teach his way.
10. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
11. For thy name's sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.
12. What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.
13. His soul shall dwell at ease: and his seed shall inherit the earth.
14. The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.
15. Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.
16. Turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
17. The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distress.
18. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
19. Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.
20. O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
21. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.
22. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.
Confessions of Saint Marty