You are currently viewing Lessons Learned in the Dark: When Pain Transforms Purpose—3 Alarming Soul Crises: A 4 Part Series

Lessons Learned in the Dark: When Pain Transforms Purpose—3 Alarming Soul Crises: A 4 Part Series

“The other village women enjoy the early, cool hours to draw water,” she muttered, hefting the water jar along the parched path. “Yet I trudge on—alone. Can I even believe in God? He’s forgotten me.”

“I’m unworthy, unwanted, unloved. Why am I still coming to this well, God?” She half shouted. Flushed with sudden embarrassment, her eyes landed on a man sitting near the well. “Did he hear me? Why is he out here at the hottest hour of the day?” she thought nervously, realizing how much she preferred being alone. 

It’s easier to become invisible than be judged.

As she approached, he spoke, “Please, give me a drink.”

A Jewish man, speaking to me? 

This broken woman soon discovered—years of desperate, distant prayers were about to be answered by the One who heard them all.

Tender mercy beaming from the eyes of this kind-hearted King penetrated her empty soul, melting decades of anguish. At that moment, her Savior not only offered relief and pardon, but a new identity and purpose. 

This famous, Biblical account demonstrates Jesus’ tender heart for all women, and those suffering a hopeless, purposeless existence. 

Passed from man to man, she lost hope of a safe, respectable living. Options dried up, dreams dashed and hopes dwindled, her soul became a barren wasteland.

Most haven’t traveled her particular path, but many of us have or will experience the dark night of the soul. The harshness of life sometimes leaves us overwhelmed, disoriented, even hopeless. Like we’ve been sucker-punched by an invisible but entirely real—and ruthless—force.

The anxious soul left to itself plunges into a hollow existence. 

What is life without purpose? A soul without passion?  

 I was here 3 years ago. My soul became parched—a dry wasteland. I no longer believed God had good plans—or any plans for that matter—left for me. My purpose withered; my identity seared by decades of bowing to fear, I lost hope.

If you allow God to work in the dark, you will come out stronger, wiser, more empathetic and joyful than imagined. 

But how do we get through the darkness?

Hollow Soul

From Jesus’ encounter with this woman, I discovered 3 truths for the hollow soul.

1. Jesus has a gift for each of us.

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” John 4:10

Salvation is God’s ultimate gift, but that’s just the beginning! Spiritual formation is an ongoing process of becoming more like Jesus. The blessing in the dark? Living water of transformation!

But we all…are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18

This is His promise! He will never leave us in our sin, poor planning, well-meaning but wrong intentions, or anxious, hollow existence.

I am sure of this; he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:6

In Him, we experience:

  • Less confusion, more clarity
  • Less burden, more light and ease
  • Less anxiety, more peace
  • Less striving, more rest
  • Less grief, more joy
  • Less emptiness, more hope

2. He knows everything about us, and still pursues us.

Enemies for centuries, Jews avoided any contact with Samaritans. Yet Jesus traveled there, on purpose, for a purpose.

There is no place Jesus won’t meet you, love you, rescue you.

Where can I flee from your presence? …If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. Psalm 139: 7b-8

His pursuit is relentless, fierce and tender.

3. When we encounter Jesus in the dark, He restores our soul with new passion and purpose.

Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman said, “He told me everything I ever did!” John 4:39

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.” Christine Caine

Jesus planted in her new purpose, and in fulfilling that purpose, she found her identity: a beloved daughter of the King.

Let’s review the questions for the hollow soul:

  • Are you lonely?
  • Do you struggle to find purpose?
  • Does life lack fulfillment or value?
  • Have you lost courage, hope?
  • Is your time with Jesus sparse or non-existent?
  • Do you struggle with prayer?
  • Does God seem distant or uncaring?

All signs of a barren soul, perhaps your purpose is lost in people-pleasing, insecurity, striving, busyness, hurt, bitterness? Clinging to the One who knows you intimately, pursues you relentlessly and possesses beautiful gifts and plans for you, the buried joy will be awakened in your soul!

I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul. Psalm 31:7

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