The Black Hole

"Solitude has its advantages, but they seldom counterbalance the loss of Christian communion."– Matthew Henry  
It’s been said that when everything seems to be falling apart, that’s often when God is putting things together the way He wants.

I admit I enjoy solitude. I have never been one who struggled with being alone at home. I have always been able to entertain or busy myself and do not “need” to be in a crowd. In fact, I prefer not to be. I have friends and family who are the total opposite.

What I most enjoy is the quality time I can spend with the Lord, especially on those days when I have nothing on the calendar. But this past year I have noticed moments of what seems to be a black hole, an aloneness completely separate from my typical solitude. I’ve summoned the Lord, and I’ve summoned wise counsel and have found that the “black hole” is indeed a part of our life journey, as well as our faith journey.

I admit, however, these times are not enjoyable. In fact, they are excruciating and painful. You feel scared and lonely, isolated, lost and confused, maybe even a little embarrassed to admit you are in such a place.

I’ve been there. No doubt, you have been there too. Maybe you are there now.

So, what do we do if we find ourselves in the black hole?

Don’t panic.

To be honest, I can quickly shift into "brood mode". Impulsivity tends to travel the path of negativity, quickly turning on myself. With time, experience, and maturity, I’ve learned this is what NOT to do…but I confess I can still fall into this one easily, which may closely accompany the introverted personality. 

But the more I walk with God, the more I come to recognize that everything serves a purpose, even the black holes. Nothing is without reason and oftentimes, the black hole is a time of preparation for a new season in our lives.

Consider Joseph

Consider how Joseph must have felt as he sat on the cold floor of that empty well into which his brothers had thrown him before they decided to pull him out and sell him to Midianite merchants. (Gen 37:24, 28) It had to have been excruciating for him, feeling totally dejected and abandoned by those he loved and trusted.

Talk about feeling wounded and frightened, neglected and abandoned, confused and isolated, maybe a little embarrassed, and perhaps even mad at himself for being so arrogant as to share his seemingly haughty dreams with his brothers.

If Joseph could have known the full picture of what lay ahead for him, he would not have believed it as he sat in the cold, damp, darkness. Joseph was stuck in a pit of nothingness, helpless in his situation. All he could do was believe, pray, and wait.

Like Joseph, being in that place of nothingness feels helpless. You begin to question yourself. The enemy creeps in to try to convince you that God has abandoned you and that you are no longer useful to Him. You even have thoughts of selling out to the first itinerant opportunity that comes along.

Like Joseph, we must continue to believe, to pray, and to wait on God and His perfect timing.

The black hole should lead us swiftly to the throne of grace. It is a time of intense spiritual reflection, carefully examining all areas of our lives.

How is my prayer life? Am I spending ample time in the Word? Is there sin in my life that needs to be dealt with? Am I holding onto something that is hindering my prayers? Or could it even possibly be a physical condition that needs medical attention?

I’m continuing to learn that I cannot trust my feelings. This is very difficult for a “feeler” like me. I equate “feeling nothing” with abandonment or disapproval, but the Word of God tells us we are to “walk by faith and not by sight”. (2 Cor. 5:7) Feelings come and go, but God is always with us.

In the black hole, I find it especially difficult to focus on prayer, on reading, or engaging in worship. Pray anyway. Read anyway. Sing anyway. Worship anyway. And sometimes, we just need to be still and listen. If you write, try journaling your experience. I do this often. You’ll smile when you come back to it later.

Consider as well that at times God may need to set us apart for a season, in order to prepare us for something we are yet to know fully. It is a time of refining in which God coordinates His plans and purposes for us as well as those we may influence. (Again, remember the story of Joseph. Read Gen. 37 through Gen. 50) He will reveal them to us as we are able.

We can learn much in the black hole. We, with Paul, can “consider it all joy” while praising God for what He is doing in our lives. (James 1:2) In time, we come to recognize how God in His infinite wisdom knows us better than we know ourselves, for we now understand the necessity of that dark season, as God brings us up out of the black hole to do the work to which He has called us.

 “So let us fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18)

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Joshua 1:5b).

Blessings in Christ,