Finding Faith in the Midst of Doubt: The Dark Night (Part 1)

A loved one’s betrayal, a grim diagnosis, or the worst possible phone call can be the push that plunges you spiraling  into a crisis of faith.  Perhaps the chronic conditions of regret, depression, anger, suffering and disappointment have slowly become resistant to clichés offered as sermons and ritual masquerading as worship.  Perhaps you are now where I have been, facing your own life and death struggle for everything you believed.  No one talks about this in polite Christian society, but it is more common than you think.  And if you are in this struggle, you are not alone.  It has happened to the best.

John the Baptist was the first to publicly recognize Jesus as the Messiah:  “Behold the Lamb of God.”  He was the promised messenger who would prepare the way of the Lord; his miraculous conception was heralded by an angel.  He was chosen to baptize Jesus and bore witness when the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus proclaiming Him as the Son of God.  Yet, John the Baptist, who Jesus pronounced as the greatest of all, wrestled in the dark with his doubts.  Alone in prison facing death he wondered what it all meant.  In his zeal, could he have been duped?  Had he been punked in some cosmic joke?  He sent a last desperate message to Jesus, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3).

The 16th Century Carmelite Priest, St. John of the Cross, describes this loss of faith as the “dark night of soul.”  It is as if the believer is plunged into a pit of doubt and despair while God is seemingly silent.  For some it is the shadow of death and hell itself.  Both King David and Job echoed this hopelessness:  “ . . . Why are thou so far from helping me and from the words of my roaring?” (Psalms 22:1b).  “But I don’t have the strength to endure. I have nothing to live for” (Job 6:11 New Living Translation).

Mother Teresa was one of those rare individuals who seemed to be born with an intense longing to love and serve Christ.  Revealed in the book of her letters, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light edited by Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, her postulator (the official responsible for gathering the evidence for her sanctification), she writes, “From the age of 5½ years—when first I received Him—the love for souls has been within” (p. 15).  The world marveled at her unselfish devotion to Christ, heaping on her accolades including the Nobel Peace Prize.  My father recalls hearing her speak at the 1994 National Day of Prayer breakfast to then-President Clinton.  He was astounded when this tiny woman addressed the most powerful man on the planet about the rights of the unborn. And yet, Mother Teresa lived under a cloak of utter despair doubting even God’s existence.  She wrote, “In my soul I feel just that terrible pain of loss—of God not wanting me” (p. 192).  She continued, “I have no faith—I don’t believe—Jesus, don’t let my soul be deceived –nor let me deceive anyone” (p. 193).

John the Baptist, the psalmist David, Job, St. John of the Cross and Mother Teresa all experienced what James describes as “the trying of your faith” (James 1:3), and, yes, God allows it. For those who are in the throes, I will not take the place of Job’s friends, and offer religious platitudes. We all have to travel our own road. I can only share what I have learned on mine.

I will blog next on Walking with God in the Shadows.


About Gail Krahenbuhl

Director of Gracious Women's Ministries, Wheaton Christian Center
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24 Responses to Finding Faith in the Midst of Doubt: The Dark Night (Part 1)

  1. Veretta says:

    truly inspirational…thanks for sharing…looking forward to your next posting!

  2. Regina Thomas says:

    Great message. I think we’ve all been there regardless of our spiritual level.

  3. Jesus Christ, our Saviour, transcends people, nations, and time. His legacy and life bring salvation, hope, and faith to all. Thanks for those beautiful words of inspiration. They allow us to reflect on the blessings of salvation.

  4. Ellie Pitts says:

    I believe you have touched a “nerve”, usually concealed quite well and almost never exposed to light. I can’t wait to see where you will journey next.

    Thank you for the “uncovering”.

  5. Paul Arthurs says:

    Thank you for your transparency in exposing the matters of the heart which make us feel vulnerable and reminding us of the precious nature of our faith.

  6. Marvlun says:

    Thanks for Posting Gail… You are such a Blessing!!! Keep it Up….HE is so Worthy… Thanks for the dialog….

  7. Marc Cartwright says:

    I’m really inspired by your first posting and I’m looking forward to your followups. You are truly Carlton and Sheila’s daughter. 🙂

  8. Sue Ciullo says:

    Beautifully written blog entry with great spiritual insight. Looking forward to the next post.

  9. Fitz says:

    Sometimes we have to meet people where they’re at. It’s good to see you using technology to get the word out. Well done!

  10. Lisa Shebar says:

    Gail, I just want to echo every one of the comments already posted. Thank you for sharing from your heart what we can all relate to. I look forward to what you post next.

  11. Alisa says:

    Thanks for your thought-provoking message. Very well done!

  12. James Parker says:

    Thanks Gail, it seems as we mature in grace the requirement for bare trust increases proportionally. Your reflections speak to places all of our hearts have been. Looking forward to future postings.

  13. Roslyn Miller says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I have felt this way also
    recently. Now I know there are others that have and are going through the same thing. I’ll be waiting for more.

  14. Alyse says:

    All I can say is that this is great and people all around the world need this. Keep on posting!

  15. Beonica McClanahan says:

    Loved it…. I really loved the ending! Classic writing. I have a request (hope I’m not overstepping boundaries) I am presented with this a lot especially from young girls. What does a true christian woman look like. how can you be powerful and submissive and successful yet a helpmet?

    • Gail Krahenbuhl says:

      Thanks, Beonica. No need to worry about overstepping boundaries with me. I need to finish this series first, but I am very interested in delving into the whole issue of submission. It is a topic of which I am very passionate and have given a great deal of thought. I really want to do a little bit more prayful soul searching because I don’t want to just spew what I think. I am on a quest for the truth, and I don’t want to offer anything less. But “go there” I will. Just hang in there with me a bit more longer.

  16. Samantha Kim Morris says:

    Thank you, Gail, for sharing this. It really got me thinking and reflecting. I look forward to the next blog. God’s Blessings!

  17. Denise Carnes says:

    All I can say is WOW! Thank you for not being afraid to be transparent. This was very thought provoking and challenged me in some areas in my own life. You are truly a blessing to the women of WCC and to the Body of Christ. Thank you for finally embracing your calling!!
    I feel privileged to know you.

  18. Pauletten Carey says:

    Gail, thanks for sharing. It’s funny how we always think we are the only one going through difficult times. This has strengthened me to continue on my journey with faith, even though sometimes it seems like God is not there. Thanks again for sharing your personal story.

  19. Brenda says:

    Gail, your words are so inspirational. They caused me to be a little wordy today.

    I am so delighted to read and reflect on the topics that you bring up. They are so important…. and are essential elements for Christians to confront today. I read all of your messages a second time today and decided to reflect on the meaning of “truth” as defined by Christ. He gave a definition of truth in John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The Psalmist in Psalms 119:142 wrote, “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.” So when we speak of the objective truth, the truth of the Bible, we speak of God’s Word or His law.

    I recall another instance in which Jesus expounded on “truth” in John 8:31 “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”. In essence, we should all seek the truth on a daily basis. That is really a sign of growth. Corinthians 3:17-18 says “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord”. Seeking the truth of God is a manifestation of spiritual growth.

    My comment on the topic of worship:

    The scripture says “God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” From this we see that the purpose of worship is to glorify and magnify God; and should come from the heart and be God centered. Church norms and mandates, personality styles, cultural and environmental legacies; all have enormous impacts on the outward performance of the worshipper. But when all is said and done…….our worship must come from the heart – with all reverence and sincerity. The obligation is to give God our very best. Then and only then will we be worshipping God “in spirit and in truth.

  20. Prisca Soko says:

    Gail: Thanks a lot for this blog, I read it over and over again cause it was speaking to me and what I am going through…

    There is a peace that one experiences beyond the expectations of others that comes through the Holy Spirit in stormy seasons………..that for me is the assurance that God is there in my darkest moments.

    HOPE, becomes the inevitable when such an assurance is there.

    God bless you as you continue to inspire us through your writings……

    • Gail Krahenbuhl says:

      @ Prisca, Your faith inspires me. May God continue to fill you with all the fulness of God. He will perform all that He has promised in your life, and you will proclaim God’s goodness all over the globe. He is the strength of your life, and you are destined to soar.

  21. Mugabazi Paradzai says:

    Thank you for refreshing mesages which are inspiring and uplifting in spirit. May God the father of Lord Jesus Christ

  22. Dallas says:

    I agree with Pauletten. It brings me greater inspiration and hope to know that such important people in Christ have also encountered doubt in their walk with God.

    BTW: I’m too excited about a blog concerning Women and submissiveness!

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