“walking/living in darkness” and “the dark night of the soul” two different things entirely

There are those who believe that no believer in the present should experience anything of the depths of the psalmist in Psalm 88. After all, didn’t Jesus say:

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:12

The walking in darkness is a motif in scripture which has to do with living apart from the light of God. Deeds of darkness accompany that, as Paul makes clear. Isaiah touches on this as well. There is both a culpability as in deserving blame and an ignorance here.

The dark night of the soul as John of the Cross called it, is something entirely different. The light is present, oddly enough, but it’s almost like something of an eclipse is taking place, so that experiencing God seems all but lost. We find this not only in the Old/First Testament, but in the New/Final Testament, as well. No less than Jesus himself experienced something of this in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross itself. We could make an argument that Paul experienced something of this himself (2 Corinthians).

The dark night of the soui is paradoxically when the light can be most at work in our lives in a work of not only exposing, but helping us eradicate as in get rid of folly or certain habits of the heart. Inclining us to the new way, to God’s will in Jesus. Of course in the case of Jesus, although he learned obedience from what he suffered, he was also without sin (Hebrews), no folly in him. So the dark night of the soul can be at work in something of a mysterious way in shaping us according to God’s will, as well.

As a brother shared recently, we fail to read the New/Final Testament with the Old/First Testament in mind. The writers of the New Testament wrote thoroughly immersed in the teaching of the First Testament so that there is continuity between the two Testaments along with the radical newness in Jesus that the fulfillment of the First Testament brings.

And so in Jesus we are those who no longer walk in darkness, but who have the light of life. And that light is at work in our lives, exposing our own darkness, so that we can more fully live in the will of God together in Jesus.


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