The Soul and Pain

“Because the soul is the deepest expression of the person, the soul is the place of greatest pain. We do not speak of the dark night of the mind, or the will, or even the spirit. Only the soul. The dark night of the soul.” — John Ortberg, Soul Keeping. 

Just as I thought I was regaining control of my emotions in Ortberg’s book, he writes on the “dark night of the soul” and tells two heart wrenching stories about pain. One was about a worship leader who was one of the best known leaders in America at one point. In his late 40s he suffered a stroke and lost “everything.” A man who commanded thousands when he sang and spoke now had people lose patience when it took him too long to formulate two words in three minutes. When he would communicate with John after all of this, he would end his letters with “GOOD.” Where he was in life was better. He was hearing God better. Slow. Simple. GOOD.

And then he told about Dallas Willard being diagnosed with cancer. Dallas went through horrific procedures, but would always say, “Whatever happens will be wonderful.”

Ortberg writes these powerful words:

Watching Dallas walk this path was like watching a scout, who has been doing advance work anyway, begin to walk into a country where we will all one day arrive. He once said, “I think that, when I die, it may take some time before I know it.”

Dallas was walking through the valley of shadow of death saying, “Game on.”

The shadow had found a worthy adversary.

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