The dark night of the soul

The dark night of the soul

December 16, 2019


Just like a deer that craves streams of water,
    my whole being[c] craves you, God.
My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When will I come and see God’s face?[d]
My tears have been my food both day and night,
    as people constantly questioned me,
    “Where’s your God now?”

But I remember these things as I bare my soul:
    how I made my way to the mighty one’s abode,
    to God’s own house,
        with joyous shouts and thanksgiving songs—
        a huge crowd celebrating the festival!
Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed?
    Why are you so upset inside?
Hope in God!
    Because I will again give him thanks,
        my saving presence and my God.

My whole being is depressed.
    That’s why I remember you
    from the land of Jordan and Hermon,
        from Mount Mizar.
Deep called to deep at the noise of your waterfalls;
    all your massive waves surged over me.
By day the Lord commands his faithful love;
    by night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God, my solid rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
        Why do I have to walk around,
        sad, oppressed by enemies?”
With my bones crushed, my foes make fun of me,
    constantly questioning me: “Where’s your God now?”

Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed?
    Why are you so upset inside?
        Hope in God!
        Because I will again give him thanks,
        my saving presence and my God.

—Psalm 42

“You’d be pretty if you just made an effort. You should feel grateful you were cat called.”

These statements are things actual women have been told. The media and societal beauty ideals portray women as thin and beautiful. We begin to internalize these messages, thinking we must conform to them. This false self-image is what the Psalmist is going through. He is going through the dark night of the soul. His enemies taunt him, "Where is your God?”

Just like the media wounds women, creating a false self-image, the Psalmist’s enemies have wounded him, creating a false self-image. Attempting to find help in himself, he remembers God from times in the past. Remembering these places only puts him in chaos because his only reference for remembering is the old self. He is in deep chaos. He feels alone and thinks God has forgotten about him, but that is very much not the case.

You see, the Hebrew word used for deep in this text is tehom. This is the same word used at the moment of creation when the Holy Spirit hovered over the deep and darkness. The same Spirit that hovered over the dark water is hovering over the chaos in the Psalmist’s dark night of the soul. At the moment of creation, out of the darkness, God created light. Just as those in Exodus were led by a pillar of cloud and smoke, the Psalmist will be led by light and truth to a place of healing, a place of authenticity, being fully alive!

We have hope from the moment of creation that God will bring light from the darkness. Before anything tries to force its identity on us, we are first created in the image of God. That is our true identity. 


*Take a deep breath*

Holy God, 
In this world that seeks to identify us, creating a false self-image, help us to remain present to you, present to ourselves. In the deep chaos, you are with us, hovering over us. You pull us out of the deep waters. You release the chains that have bound us or so long. Through your light and truth, you guide us back to you, back to ourselves, back to authenticity. 
Now we emerge. Now we breathe. Now we live. 


By: Rev. Kristina Roth