Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Blessing of Dissatisfaction

     From a recent article by S.M. Hutchens in Touchstone Magazine entitled "Mother Teresa's Light":
 Mother Teresa was, as far as I believe anyone can judge, a Christian of the very highest order... a person in whom the desire for the person and life of God was maintained through a life of the most intense and single-minded devotion - yet she was never granted in this life what she sought.  She sought Jesus, and he never came to her as she desired, but was present principally in his absence.... and yet she remained (and this is the greatest of all her glories)  faithful to her calling to the end. 
     The profound importance of this witness needs continual emphasis among Christians whose measure of the reality and quality of spiritual experience is essentially of how satisfying it is to them, how good it makes them feel, how much they are delivered from their various distresses by what they take to be the grace and power of God.  It is not that this grace and power are not present to satisfy the desires of the spirit and the appetites of the body - they are, to be sure.  But one crosses the threshold of error when these graces become invariably  regarded as signs or measure of happiness...
    In each of his temptations, the Son of Man was offered gratification, in this life, of the deepest desires of body and spirit, and yet he refused them, insisting that they come to him only in the Father's time and something like present happiness for "the joy set before him, enduring...the cross."
   This will be a good life, but it will be a life based on faith and hope.  
This means we shall not live it, or leave it, satisfied.

A faith that is never tested is not faith at all, no more than patience can be patience if there is never any need to wait.  A life that is never at some point hopeless is a life in which hope can never be fully appreciated.  There is a reason faith and hope need to "abide" (1 Corinthians 13:13):  we will need them until the day we die, so that we can navigate a world that is often full of doubt and despair.

   And it will still be a good life, because faith and hope will be my companions, and they will remind me that one day I will be home, and all will be well.