“But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I take no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38
Seemings and feelings are often substituted for faith. Pleasurable emotions and deep satisfying experiences are part of the Christian life, but they are not all of it. Trials, conflicts, battles and testings lie along the way, and are not to be counted as misfortunes, but rather as part of our necessary discipline. In all these varying experiences we are to reckon on Christ as dwelling in the heart, regardless of our feelings if we are walking obediently before Him. Here is where many get into trouble; they try to walk by feeling rather than faith.
One of the saints tells us that it seemed as though God had withdrawn Himself from her. His mercy seemed clean gone. For six weeks her desolation lasted, and then the Heavenly Lover seemed to say:
“Catherine, thou hast looked for Me without in the world of sense, but all the while I have been within waiting for thee; meet Me in the inner chamber of thy spirit, for I am there.”
Distinguish between the fact of God’s presence, and the emotion of the fact. It is a happy thing when the soul seems desolate and deserted, if our faith can say, “I see Thee not. I feel Thee not, but Thou art certainly and graciously here, where I am as I am.” Say it again and again: “Thou art here: though the bush does not seem to burn with fire, it does burn. I will take the shoes from off my feet, for the place on which I stand is holy ground.” (Streams in the Desert)
“Now that I no longer desire all, I have it all without desire.”― St. John of the Cross
You may or may not have ever heard of St. John of the Cross, but what he wrote about you have no doubt experienced. John was a Spanish Carmelite monk who lived in the 16th Century. He is best known for writing “The Dark Night of the Soul” in which he describes a familiar experience—the loss of all pleasure associated with one’s spiritual experience. We may refer to it as a “dry spell”, but we all identify with periods in which we feel spiritually dry as toast, and would rather watch paint peel than read Scripture, pray, or suffer through another church service. John’s great gift to us is his reminder that these times are actually a gift from God, orchestrated to wrestle away control from us and lead us away from loving God for what we get out of it, and into a fuller and deeper relationship of loving God for who he is. The darker the night becomes, the more intense is our search for the only light that matters.