There comes a time, several times, in the life of every believer when darkness seems to descend, those things that bring us the most joy seem obscured, and our walk seems infinitely more difficult.  They come without warning and usually just as we feel that we have finally earned a well-deserved rest.  If we are lucky, the darkness lasts for the briefest of moments before Christ steps out on the bow of the ship and whispers peace into the storm.  Other times, however, the darkness seems to last and, we find ourselves alone in a crowded room.  These times are not some momentary faltering, easily overcome and just as easily forgotten; these are our night seasons, and as we continue our walk, we must learn to recognize and respond to these desolate moments.

In scripture, we find that a night season often descends for one of three reasons: as as method of correction, from a need for consolation, or in a time of all-out spiritual warfare.

Job, perhaps more so than any other biblical figure, recognized the true agony of the night season. In Job 30:17, this model of patience and perseverance wrote, “In the night season my bones are pierced in me, And the pains that gnaw me take no rest.”  Beyond his health issues, beyond his loss, the feeling that God had withdrawn his protecting hand hurt Job deeply. The pains of loss paled beside the distance from his source of joy.  Then, as usually happens, the problem was compounded by the betrayal of friends and the goading of enemies.  Caught in a storm the likes of which most will never see,  Job describes the feeling of a night season perfectly when he says that he is assaulted by terrors, his dignity is in shreds, and he feels like his salvation is up smoke (Job 30:15, MSG).  How many times have we felt this way?  Afraid of what might come, afraid of what others might think, afraid that we have, somehow, strayed too far from the mark and lost our way indefinitely… It is for this very reason that we must identify the night season and allow God to light our path.  

Spiritual Warfare

In scripture, we find that a night season often descends for one of three reasons: as as method of correction, from a need for consolation, or in a time of all-out spiritual warfare. It was in the latter

Prayer and praise, worship and works, fasting and favor:  these are the weapons we use

that Job found himself, attacked on all sides by an enemy that had been given only one restriction: he couldn’t kill him.  In Job’s case, death might have been merciful, but as with all spiritual attacks, the end result for a believer who perseveres is the glorification of God and a life where blessings are “pressed down, shaken together, and running over” (Luk 6:38).  In this (and my greatest failing is often here), perseverance is the key.  We must continue to war throughout the darkest of nights, knowing that – no matter how we feel – we are not, and never have been, alone.  We must fight with those weapons provided us (prayer and praise, worship and works, fasting and favor) until the enemy is driven back.  As always, our path follows directly the footsteps of Christ who had to suffer his own night season in the wilderness and again in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Each time, he held fast to the love of the Father and to those words that provide a “lamp unto our feet” even in the darkest of times.  

A Need For Consolation

Perhaps even more prominent in our day to day spiritual walk is a night season brought on, not by an attack, but rather through discouragement and fear.  Very often, especially with Christians who are rooted in their faith, it is neither necessary, nor even prudent, for the enemy to send a direct attack.  These are often recognizable and, as such, many Christians find that they are able to resist them much more easily.  So, at least it seems to me, the fallback position of the enemy is a steady campaign designed not to tempt us from the path, but rather to get us to stop somewhere along the way.  Using a seemingly innocent comment here, an unsound piece of advice there, satan wages a covert war that causes us to begin to make excuses.  For Elijah, it came from Jezebel.  This man, who had seen over 400 false prophets of Baal consumed by holy fire, allowed a threat made by one angry woman to stop him in his tracks.  There was a goodly amount of fear, certainly, but I do not believe that it was fear alone that gave Elijah pause.  The path was difficult; his allies few, and due to this fact, Elijah, for forty days and nights, hid from the world and from the responsibility that God had given him.  God himself recognized that “the journey is too great” and so he allowed Elijah a moment to sulk before stepping in and asking, “Elijah, what are you doing?”  No matter the person being asked this question of God, the answer here is always the same: “Not what I am supposed to be doing.”  I have come to love this story and to love God’s solution to Elijah’s night season.  Papa didn’t just give Elijah a swift kick and send him on his way; he provided him with the one thing that made the rest of Elijah’s journey possible: Elisha. (1 Kings 18-19) We must not undervalue the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Moses took Aaron, David had Jonathan, even Christ himself gathered together the apostles. It is in the small groups of fast friends that we find the support and encouragement we need to continue the journey.   

It is in the small groups of fast friends that we find the support and encouragement we need to continue the journey.  

A Method of Correction

The final night season is perhaps the most frightening and the most dangerous.  We have all taken that step back, turned briefly away from that which we know to be right and to chase after that which we (at least at the time) think will serve to make us happier, more popular, more well-to-do, more… something.  We take that step back, and the next follows more easily, and the next, until, through our own choices and our own desires, we have allowed sin to separate us from God.  We hide this separation in dark rooms and darker silence; we drown it in the nearest bottle or dull it with the nearest pill, and yet, even in that haze, the unhappiness and uneasiness of separation from God is present and alarming.  David stepped too far away and it cost him a son.  Jonah spent three nights in the belly of a great fish.   The children of Israel walked for years around the same mountain and missed a trip to the promised land.  This night season is different for each who must endure it, but our time there can be greatly shortened if only we remember that the Light didn’t move, we did.  And just as David rose, washed himself, and returned to the House of God, or just as Jonah cried our from the belly of the fish, we must turn back, cry out, and allow the mercy and the grace of God to provide us that redemption and peace which comes only from the Father through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Then, as we continue our journey, we must come to recognize these night seasons, whether they come for correction or instruction, and ultimately realize, just as David did, that even though darkness surrounds us, we serve a God in “whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas 1:17).

Psa 16:7 & 8:  I will bless YHWH who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.  I have set YHWH always before me;  because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

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About the Seeking Scripture Team: We are a group of believers from all walks of the faith, saved by grace alone through faith in our Messiah. While we are of one accord in many things, we are all works in progress and lifelong learners. Therefore the opinions of one may not always represent the opinions of all.

Matt Adams
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