Hello. It is thank God It's Sunday here at my blog on August 21. There's a special kind of torment suffered only by people who had formerly been very religious -- genuinely religious -- in their courage and humility to recognize and conquer their inner dragons, in their compassion for and willingness to help set at liberty those held captive by poverty, loneliness, or a sense of futility. This exquisite torment is the pain suffered by those who, accustomed to looking inward, and having found fellowship with God there for years, one day start to torment themselves with such questions as: have I committed the unpardonable sin? have I just been delusional about my speaking to and listening to and hearing from God all these years? have I blasphemed the Holy Spirit? will I ever get that childlike faith in God back? is it denied to me now because I've been filled with "an evil heart of unbelief" or because it was all a fantasy to begin with?
This torment is not limited to those from a Christian tradition. Google "spiritual crisis" and you will see.
I don't presume to write these "Thank God It's Sunday" articles because I think I am a spiritual giant -- far from it. I do want to offer encouragement to people who find themselves in that place of torment--those who are so homesick for the secure state of knowing all the answers that they type these questions into Google!
Here is comfort: you are not alone, and you are in very good company. People who care for the souls of those seeking God in all kinds of traditions have recognized that these painful seasons, or Dark Nights, are
(1) not only a very common, but also
(2) important steps in the deepening of the spirit's walk with the Spirit of God.
St. John of the Cross writes in "Dark Night of the Soul" of two kinds of "dark nights," the night of purification of the senses, and the night of purification of the spirit. The first kind is said to be endured by "countless beginners," who when shepherded through this painful season by someone who understands what they are going through, end up with a closer walk with God than they ever had before. The second night, "the night of the purification of the spirit" will only be experienced by a very few.
This second night is "horrendous and terrifying to the spirit," (and can last for years!) and those who have lived through it can't even speak of the things they've seen. Paul writes in one of his epistles (2 Corinthians) of a man in Christ who is caught up to "the third heaven" and heard astounding things he was not permitted to write about.
The important thing to keep in mind about this second Dark Night for most of us (who will not likely before death reach that stage of union with God) is that even those who are marked for the highest degree of spiritual development will endure a process of feeling abandoned by God, completely lost in their journey to knowledge of their Creator. The majority of us who are merely going through the process of having our spiritual training wheels removed are, because of our faith crises and doubts, no less dearly beloved than the most devout and seasoned saints, whose paths have included doubts, too.
Doubting? Lost? You are on the right path, if you are still yearning for God. And if you weren't yearning for God, you wouldn't be googling such questions, would you, now?