Yesterday I related that I was in a rut and many responded and most indicated that they too were in a rut. It was refreshing to hear that I was not the only one, once again proving the old adage that misery loves company. Perhaps the best response received for the day was this excerpt: “Ah yes Bob, ruts and change are part of this life we all have to deal with. Most don’t put their finger on it like you have. I will pray with Judith for God’s direction for you and your powerful ministry. We know the saints of old had theirs. Mother Teresa had a terrible time of questioning God and her ministry, those were very dark days for her I read. If it can happen to Mother Teresa . . . well guess what – Was there ever a more Godly women?”
She was an incredible woman and I can easily understand her discouragement. Oddly one of her quotes was: “If you are discouraged, it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers.”
I was reading about her this morning and came across this quote: “It is not enough for us to say, ‘I love God, but I do not love my neighbor,’” she said, since in dying on the Cross, God had “[made] himself the hungry one – the naked one – the homeless one.” Jesus’ hunger, she said, is what “you and I must find” and alleviate.
Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that only became public after her death, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. “Jesus has a very special love for you,” she assured Van der Peet. “[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see – Listen and do not hear – the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me – that I let Him have [a] free hand.”
That perceived absence of God seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and–except for a five-week break in 1959–never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, she wrote many letters to friends and spiritual advisors confiding that she lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness” and “torture” she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell. She wrote: “In my soul, I feel just the terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me, of God not being God, of God not really existing.”
Some people may be discouraged to learn this about Mother Teresa. But, in reality, knowing that she struggled with her faith—even doubting whether God really existed – should give us great hope and encouragement. How? It shows us that even Mother Teresa endured hardships, struggles, and most importantly doubted her faith just like we do. Even though she spent many years doubting God’s presence in her life, she never once wandered off the path God chose for her to follow.
Why did Mother Teresa suffer so much darkness and despair in her life? Why didn’t God release such a dedicated, selfless woman from her misery?
God never makes mistakes. He has a master plan and an individual purpose for each of us. It took almost her entire life, yet Mother Teresa (with the help of one of her spiritual advisers) came to the realization that her suffering was meant to bring her closer to the suffering Jesus endured on the cross and the suffering of the poor she served. She finally realized her feelings of being abandoned by God only heightened her sensitivity to the feelings of abandonment and despair the poor and sick people around her were experiencing. Paradoxically, throughout the darkest moments in her life, she was a beacon of immense light to others.
- Although you sometimes don’t hear, feel, or see God in your life, never stop believing in Him and doing His will. Remember, He has a reason for everything.
- Lift up those who have fallen, encourage the downtrodden and rekindle the hope in the discouraged.
- Holiness can be reached by simple means—Love the unloved, the outcasts, and the lonely individuals in your community and homes. Always do more than is expected or you’re ready to do.
- Seek God in every person you meet, especially the destitute.
- Never refuse God anything.
- Even the holiest individuals, the most faithful, and saints struggle in their spiritual lives.
Wow my troubles just paled into insignificance. In the end it seems we just need to keep our focus on God and His work and soon the ruts will dissipate altogether.
“Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “And not a God far off? “Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?” declares the LORD “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD.
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