When God puts His knife to our branches and begins to slice off the parts that must go, we often experience great loneliness, low emotional feelings and pain. Pruning actually creates a temporary dry spell in our spiritual life very similar to those barren tree stumps on the tea plantations. Saint John of the Cross from the 16th century termed this season of our lives “the dark night of the soul.”
Very often we feel confused, and we fail to understand what is going on. We pray, but God doesn’t seem to hear. We fast, but our situation stays the same. We repent of every imaginable sin we could have committed, but find no answer. Discouraged and frightened, we conclude that something is wrong with our spiritual life.
This is the most dangerous time during the pruning process, and it’s the one most often used by the Enemy to trip us up. He intends to deceive us into thinking that we have backslidden, have lost God’s grace and should quit serving God. Or he tries to convince us to create a counterfeit spiritual life to compensate for what we think we have lost. If we believe him, we will generate all kinds of carnal activities so no one would easily discover that God’s presence has left us.
But all the while, nothing is wrong with our spiritual life, and we haven’t lost anything. We are just going through the pruning process.
If we could only recognize that it is the hand of God that holds the knife, then we would be able to do the right thing: trust in His wisdom, humble ourselves and honor Him by walking in faith rather than sight. Then we would be able to accept the wilderness, the cutting, the discipline, the loneliness and the pain as necessary preparation for the future.
As the Master Gardener, God can already see how this pruning process will bring about character changes within us, transform our nature and deepen our relationship with Him. He knows how best to care for us.
Choose to walk by faith during your “dark night of the soul.”