Mother Teresa’s Faith Crisis: Similar to Mine?
“Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.” Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979
Letters Mother Teresa wrote to her spiritual counselors and confessors are the basis of a posthumous autobiography: Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light.
It reveals that she had a “Dry, dark and lonely spiritual” life that lasted nearly 50 years.
This doesn’t surprise me. “There are two things, it has often been said, that human beings cannot gaze at directly without going mad-the glory of God and the darkness of human evil” (Os Guinness). I’m not saying that the good Mother was mad.
But I do see how constantly caring for Calcutta’s overwhelming and never-ending supply of poverty- and disease-stricken human beings could lead to deep doubts.
What happens when I’m exposed to evil? Like . . .
- Divorce after almost 20 years of marriage and a settlement that devalued and negated who I was as a partner and parent.
- Devastating end to my mother’s life where there was no dignity and even less pain-control given by the medical establishment despite our efforts.
- Friends having repeated miscarriages when some get easily pregnant and just as easily abort the baby.
- Senseless deaths of toddlers whether accidental or purposeful.
- Senseless murders that the WTC tragedy exemplifies.
- Rape, molestation, abuse of any kind inflicted on children.
- Your personal list could rival these I’m sure.
These events and others like them have caused me to doubt God and His intent in my life and in the world. You too?
Usually I don’t experience such an event multiple times a day or even only once a day. But Mother Teresa did. I don’t think it made a theological or spiritual difference that she willingly placed herself into this ever-swelling midst of evil and suffering.
But even with this Sister’s crisis of faith, it did not keep her from the work God gave her to do. I look to Mother Teresa as a hero. . . as one whose love-in-action carried on despite the mountain of personal pain, doubt, and soul-weariness.
I pray that is my response as well. I don’t want my feelings to dictate my actions. There are things I will never know or understand. Evil is one of them.
But I do know that God is good. That He is powerful. That He loves me. And that it is okay to question.