Mother Teresa’s Worry

One of the wonders of childhood is to watch an old hound dog lying in the shade of the porch, panting and drooling, on a hot summer afternoon. Have you ever wondered why a dog pants ?

According to what I read, our canine buddies don’t sweat like we do so they lower their body temperatures by panting.

You could save a lot of money on deodorant if you panted instead of smearing on the Right Guard or Secret. Just be careful not to hyperventilate.

Other animals pant when they’re thirsty also. The Psalmist had evidently seen a thirsty deer panting and made an application to his own life.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember as I pour out my soul …” (Psalms 42, NIV)

I think we all get like that sometimes. I read an article recently that commented on some of the writings of Mother Teresa in which she revealed a terrible spiritual darkness that she experienced as she sought to sense the presence of God. In 1957, she wrote “I find no words to express the depths of the darkness.” Over twenty years later she wrote to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, “As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.”

Yet it seems that she was reaching out to God. She also wrote in a prayer to Jesus, “If this brings You glory — if souls are brought to you — with joy I accept all to the end of my life.”

I make no pretense of judging Mother Theresa—only God knows her heart and eternity will reveal His judgment, just like each one of us will be judged. But I think I understand a bit of what she suffered. Maybe it was what St. John of the Cross called “the dark night of the soul.”

There is nothing better on earth than to feel the presence of the Lord Jesus and swim in the ocean of the knowledge that He loves you. “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Ps. 16:11)

But some mornings I wake up and I don’t feel anything; God seems far off or it seems that He’s mad at me and I’m not sure why. It’s kind of scary and sometimes it goes on quite awhile.

What causes it? The source could be spiritual or physical fatigue, a satanic attack, the weight of problems, a trial that the Lord allows to test you, a time of mental weakness, a sense of our weakness before the challenges of life, sin, a lack of trust in Him, or probably a lot of other things.

The big question is how do you get rid of it?

I’ve learned, and I’m learning, to just continue on, believing the truth of God’s Word whether I feel like it or not. The key is to do right even if you don’t feel right. Often action follows feeling but in a mature Christian’s life, he acts whether he feels anything or not. As often as not, feelings follow actions.

In dry times, dark times it’s good to “talk to your soul.” Eugene Peterson captures this key well in his paraphrase of Psalms 42. “

“Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.

When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse
everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,
including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos,
to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers
crash and crush me.
Then GOD promises to love me all day,
sing songs all through the night!
My life is God’s prayer.

Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,
“Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears,
harassed by enemies?”
They’re out for the kill, these
tormentors with their obscenities,
Taunting day after day,
“Where is this God of yours?”

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.” (The Message)

“Fix your eyes on God … Rehearse everything you know about Him.” What do you know about Him? Here’s what His Word says:

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16, NIV)

Do right whether you feel right or not. Allow Him to search your heart to see if you’ve gotten away from Him.

Normally, the feelings will be back after awhile. But if not, just keep going forward because God is true and his Word is true, whether we feel it or not.


“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela

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