This week on my Facebook Timeline an old memory was resurrected: the season of our past when our son’s auto-immune disorder onset. This week began one of the longest, hardest, most gruelingly intense seasons of my life, and it has not yet come to a close.
But, there are some things I have learned about these seasons: the Dark Nights of the Soul. I believe that our Abba has so much to teach us, even when the worst is happening.
May these words be a blessing to your soul, especially if you, too, are enduring your own season of darkness and impossibility. And, may they be a guide of wisdom for you if you are walking beside someone else in theirs.
In our Greatest Times of Need, He will Comfort our Aching Souls
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” ~ 2 Cor. 1: 3-4
I remember that season far too well. Over the course of a few days I noticed my son’s progressing inability to control his movements. He started shaking and began to fall. I asked others, “Do you see what I see?”
They didn’t…at least not at first.
But, a few days later it was undeniable. Something was definitely wrong. Our nearly two year old little boy was suddenly unable to walk with ease and was shaking uncontrollably, and we needed help.
On the way to the ER, I felt the presence of the Lord and heard in my heart these words:
“My daughter, you are entering into your Job season. I am with you.”
Though I would love to say these words soothed me, they didn’t. I was terrified.
For the next week we endured endless testing, poking, prodding, and guessing. Finally, we received the diagnosis: acute cerebellitus, with the prognosis that it would pass within 6-8 weeks.
But, something did not settle within me. It just didn’t seem right.
Weeks later, as our son progressively got worse with new symptoms, I looked up online some other possibilities. A quick Google of “misdiagnosis acute cerebellitis” and I had my answer within minutes, which was confirmed a week later: Opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome, an incredibly rare neuromuscular auto-immune disorder.
Why, Lord? HOW?! Why?!
“My Grace is sufficient for you…”
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” ~ Matt. 5: 4
The season was one of the most challenging times in my entire life. Rather than being a simple passenger along for the ride of struggle (as I was as a child when my father died suddenly of a heart attack at 38 years old), this time I was the parent. I had responsibilities and had to make choices.
How are we doing to treat this? What are our next steps? How can I help my son?!
Step-by-step, little-by-little, piece-by-piece, He walked with us through.
I struggled mightily. Each day was a new opportunity to cry. Most days I felt numb and alone and abandoned.
It was no longer simple to get out of the house and go to where other people were. At this time I had five children seven and under with an infant in the mix. Just going food shopping felt impossible.
But, He was with me, quietly standing by my side, holding me tightly and just being there.
It did not feel like it was enough. I wanted all of the struggles and pains to be taken away!
Take this cup from me; from my son! Heal him! That’s what people say You do. What am I doing wrong? Heal him, Abba.
Yet, this was not our path…well, not the miraculous, immediate healing that is most beloved and spread and discussed, but that is a story for a different day.
There are Lessons in the Journey
I have had several years to reflect on this season of my history and the journey it has taken me on. Honestly, I am still continuing to learn the many lessons contained within it all.
Here are a few lessons that I believe this season teaches:
This Struggle is Not of Your Making
We have had the heartbreaking experience of judgement in the midst of this season of struggle, when another person asserts that suffering like this must be due to “hidden sin” or “a coveted idol.”
The truth is that though there may be times when hidden sin reaps a harvest of disaster, THESE kinds of struggles are not the same. Such an assumption is to misunderstand the Law of Reaping and Sowing.
Just like Job’s friends assumed that Job had done something against God and was bringing wrath upon himself, this season is not about God’s wrath and judgement. As one of His children, you do not experience His wrath, but His love, mercy, grace, and compassion.
His wrath is saved for those who reject Him, not His beloved ones.
During the Greatest Times of Struggle, There is Little to Be Said
As much as we all so desperately want to have our struggles taken away at the snap of a finger, this is not what is promised for us as we walk our journey of faith.
Struggles will come in this fallen world. Hardship is inevitable and necessary as we learn to trust His provision and assurance. Times of suffering are necessary for our growth, even if it does not feel like it.
But, most importantly of all is the fact that in the midst of our greatest suffering, He is there. In the center of our hardest seasons, He never leaves us. He offers the greatest help we truly need: His presence.In the center of our hardest seasons, He never leaves us. He offers the greatest help we truly need: His presence. Click To Tweet
We think we need His guidance, wisdom, advice, or hand to fix the problem. But, in His Sovereignty He sits beside us silently, offering understanding, grace, love, compassion, and empathy. He offers us His presence, and on occasion a word of encouragement.
In our greatest times of suffering, that is when we need His comfort. He is with you.
This Too Shall Pass
I know it feels like the pain and struggle will never go away. The hardest times of life feel like an insurmountable mountain of chaos and impossibility.
As you lean into Him and fall into His arms, though, one-step-at-a-time He is leading you through the valley. Trust Him. Choose to trust who He says He is.
Shout out that you are deciding to believe that He is good, even in the face of earthly struggle. Make the decision within yourself to not listen to the doubts and the lies and the fears about tomorrow.
And little by little, step by step, He is making a way.
As you draw near to Him, He is leading you out of the miry pit.
But, know this, if you hide yourself from Him, if you hate Him in your suffering, if you turn your back towards Him and hold tightly to your pain, He will not pull you out of the pit. He will sit with you, patiently, quietly, compassionately, and calmly, continuing to encourage you to trust Him even in this until YOU are ready to move again.
This too shall pass, and that process is dependent on a growing together of your heart with His spirit. Lean into Him. Trust His Way. He is the Good Shepherd, and will not lead you astray.
“…It was then that I carried you.”
Sweet sister, if you are enduring “the Dark Night of the Soul” and it feels like all the world is crumbling down around you and your faith IS the size of a mustard seed, He is with you.
Do not be afraid of Him leaving you, even though others will likely not understand. He is with you.
The faith walk journey is not easy, though the simplicity of it is to constantly and steadily cling to Him above all else, even when nothing makes sense and everything seems wrong.
He is with you and you cannot scare Him with even huge, big, MASSIVE feelings and emotions! He is not afraid of them, and He can handle your questions, doubts, fears, concerns, and tears.
Fall into His arms and take comfort in His presence. The struggle may endure for a moment, but there is joy on the other side. Keep walking.
Footprints in the Sand
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He whispered, ‘My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.'”