August 16, 2008

Dark Night of the Soul

Matthew 28:16-20

“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20


Janette Schaafsma shares her story in Breaking Barriers, a newsletter of Disabilities Concerns Ministries. Aching joints from rheumatoid arthritis kept Janette in pain. She wrestled in a nighttime of disturbing emotions: anger, frustration, helplessness, fear, grief, deep sadness. Janette was stuck at home much of the time. Her husband was helpful, but often felt so helpless. The loneliness cut deep. It seemed as if people at church and even her own children neglected her. Worst of all, she felt abandoned by God. One night she wrestled before God, straining with emotion. Tears flowed from her eyes. She wrote in her journal, “I am cut off from the land of the living. I feel cut off from you, my God. Do you hear me when I cry out to you for relief? People get tired of it all. Do you, Lord? Should I just stop bothering you with my prayers and requests for healing?” In Janette's lament, I hear an echo of Jacob: “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26). Janette may have been tempted to leave God, but she would not let God go. And God didn't leave her. God even brought some relief through surgery and medication. God wants to bless his children. We might not receive all that we pray for. But God gives more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He gives himself.

Thank you, Lord, for assuring us that you will never leave us or forsake us. Thank you, Jesus, for your promise to be with us forever. Be near to us each day. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Mark Stephenson

Rev. Mark Stephenson is the Director of Disability Concerns for the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Previously he served in two congregations in Michigan. He and his wife have four children.

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