Dark Night of the Soul – A lesson from Hosea

I have felt very quiet lately.  My heart is heavy, I am growing weary.  I press on.  I fail daily but I keep getting up and doing the next thing.  I feel like I’m losing my words….but words are my release.  They break the chains that imprison my emotions.  They are my process.  I must write words whether I must grasp blindly for them or not.  I must find them to have clarity in my mind and heart. So today, I do the next thing.  I write.

I’ve been reading Hosea.  Wow.  I’ve read it several times before but there is something new about it in this season.  If you haven’t read it, the basic gist of it is that God asks Hosea to marry a prostitute.   Hosea chooses Gomer.   He loves Gomer and has children with her but she is continually drawn back to her world of prostitution.  The book in the Bible is only a few chapters but this story spans quite a bit of time.  There are 3 children born and weaned.  You see, Gomer was a representation of Israel at the time.  It had turned its back on God and was worshiping other gods among other evil things. Gomer also kept turning her back on her husband who loved her. God set it all up this way.  He was going to do something big.

Hosea didn’t “deserve” to have a wife that was unfaithful to him.  He was a good man. Everything we see in this book shows what an honorable person he was.  And yet he was treated horribly for a time.  He was rejected.  He was abandoned.  The credit for everything good in Gomer’s life was given to the other men she slept with.  Can you imagine what Hosea felt? The agony in his soul?  Even though God had set it all up in the first place, do you think that fact made him “feel” any better? But he did it.  He chose it because God asked.  He walked the long, hard, desert road because God told him to….and he chose to obey.  He chose to be wounded.  This wasn’t something that was inflicted on him by some twist of fate.  It was not a surprise to him.  He knew what was coming and he chose it anyway.  He chose it.  Pretty much like Jesus who asked for a way out but chose to obey when no escape route from His Father presented itself.

I think maybe I’ve mentioned this before on here, but I’m going to bring it up again.  A few years back I was talking to a friend about what God had done in my life up to that point, in so many areas  And in that conversation, I made a bold statement. I told her that as Christians, we always talk about being more “Christlike”…..But if we really want to be more like Jesus, sometimes we have to crawl up on the cross and choose to be wounded like Jesus was.  I thought I knew what I was saying at the time.  I realize now that I had no idea.  I thought I had been wounded in my life.  I thought I had felt pain and continued to endure.  I had almost given up but God brought me through in the end…I made it out okay.  Or so I thought. But here’s the thing about God….there is always a deeper level.  It’s always our choice, but if we keep saying yes, He will take us deeper until we die.  Sometimes it is a beautiful, joyful experience.  And sometimes it is the Dark Night of the Soul. Sometimes it is the Great and Terrible.  This is where I am.

Please forgive me if this all seems over-dramatic.  Maybe it is.  I don’t know.  All I know is that I feel so deep sometimes that I must process to get it out….to force perspective to rise to the surface.  I will not let darkness swallow me again so I do this. I write.

Back to Hosea….

He chose a life he most assuredly did not want.  He wanted to be loved unconditionally by a wife with a beautiful heart and a kind spirit…..by a woman who chose to see beyond his faults into his core…into his soul.  Isn’t that what everyone wants? I’m sure he probably thought he “deserved” that.  But he also knew his God.  He knew that His heart was for him, not against him.  Hosea understood that God always had a bigger plan and no matter what, God would see that His plan was fulfilled.  Hosea just wanted it to happen on God’s timeline.  He knew that if he got involved and tried to rush things to get out of his own pain, that it would only prolong what God was trying to accomplish.  He just knew.  And he trusted.

Here’s the thing.  In looking at myself, I really do believe that God will bring my pain and hurt to an end.  I know that there is something ahead for me that is beyond what I can even imagine.  I trust Him.  The problem is that I don’t trust His timing.  I need to.  I keep willing myself to but it hasn’t penetrated yet.  My mind is obsessed with the end of the season.  Not even what it will look like, but just that it will be over.  I wake up with the thought every day and go to sleep with it every night. And I fear I’m missing something deeper.  I have learned so much and grown so much in this season but I am stuck here.  I need to get unstuck.  I need to trust His timing.  I need to choose His timing like Hosea did.

You see, God redeemed it all. He won Israel back.  Hosea won Gomer’s heart and she never looked back.  There was no longer anyone for her but him.  God did what He had promised from the very beginning.  Hosea had patience and he had hope, despite what he was going through, despite his Dark Night of the Soul.  He still clung to God.  So I leave you with this….a devotional that a dear friend send to me just this morning (amazing how God does that, right?).  It’s called Patience and Hope and it goes like this…

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say on the Lord ~Psalm 27:14~

The reason that we many times do not see or feel the Lord is that we are not waiting on the Lord.  We are still on our own timetable and we are still running madly ahead of God and hoping He will catch up to our plans.  But that is not how God works.  He doesn’t change just because we are fickle and He does not hurry just because we are impatient.

Believer, I do not doubt that your trial is real, that your burden is heavy, or that your discouragement is deep.  But put your eyes upon this promise, wrap your mind around this word; when we wait courageously on the Lord, He will strengthen our hearts.  God is never late and He is never insufficient.

What will the future bring?  Wait on the Lord.

When will this sorrow end?  Wait on the Lord.

How should I handle this decision?  Wait on the Lord.

The answer echoes through the tunnel of time and from the soundboard of millions of satisfied saints.  Wait, I say, on the Lord.

The trial may not go away tomorrow, but neither will the strength that God has promised to give you.  The pain may not diminish, but neither will His grace.

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