In the previous page I pointed out that the metaphysical loneliness of the soul can be filled with the love and presence of God. Beyond this one can experience the dark night of the soul.
say people in hell suffer eternal pain because
of the loss of God . . .
In my soul I feel just this terrible pain of loss,
of God not wanting me, of God not being God,
of God not really existing.
That terrible longing keeps growing, and I feel as if
something will break in me one day.
Heaven from every side is closed." (Mother Theresa)
Christ as man on the Cross cried out, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mt 27:46) Christ is using Ps 22, a prophecy of his suffering, to express the terrible pain both of body and soul. The sufferings he experienced were both of body and soul because he offered himself as a sacrifice to the Father as a complete human being. The Father could never abandon his Son, but only deprived his human soul of the consolation of his felt presence. The prophet Isaiah says this about the Messiah: Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:45).
So, why does God deprive souls of the consolation of his felt presence? The simple answer is, to purify them. God is spirit and union with Him has to be through naked faith. Do you believe what I said, even when doubts and lack of feelings of my presence disappear? We might say that the "Dark Night of the Soul" is Purgatory on earth. Or, to put it in the words of Chuck DeGroat, "The purpose of the dark night ... is to strip us of our futile attempts to find God on our own terms and awaken us to a much simpler desire for intimacy with God."
Is the Dark Night clinical depression? We must distinguish between the two. A person suffering the Dark Night knows, at some level, that his or her suffering has purpose while the clinically depressed wants to be relieved immediately. The clinically depressed has a loss of energy and pleasure in most things including hobbies while the Dark Night experience deprives a person primarily of pleasure in the things of God. (Webpage: Is it Depression or Dark Night of the Soul? by Therese Borchard) The Dark Night may coincide with psychological depression and its not wrong to avail ourselves therapy, exercise, support groups, and medication when needed. (Webpage: Facing a 'Dark Night of the Soul' by Chuck DeGroat)
6. Pain of Dying