Journal excerpt: overcoming spiritual despair

Journal excerpt: overcoming spiritual despair

In the treacherous space where love often twists into hate, I pushed the void back onto itself and found the light. This occurred when I intuited that underneath my blaming God lay the assumption that He was personally involved in my circumstance to such a degree that He warranted culpability. My safe harbor came from acknowledging this aspect of God’s sovereignty. If I wanted to access His healing touch in my pain, I had to accept His will in all things, good or bad. Unable to grasp how sovereignty, free will, and prayer worked together, I tilted towards the theology that says: “God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” The more I focused my anger on Satan, the more I could recognize and access God’s goodness, the full measure of Julian of Norwich’s prayer.

To overcome spiritual amnesia, I force fed my soul by revisiting former insights. I turned to Mark 14:34, and read how Christ’s swelling grief reached a peak in the Garden of Gethsemane. He said, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death.” This eternal template quantified and mirrored my pain. Thomas Merton said, “To suffer without dwelling on our own affliction, we must think of a greater affliction and turn to Christ on the cross.”

The spirituality of abandonment led to my purification. My soul united with God, I left behind all hope of reward—save intimacy with Him. On the other side of emptiness, I found peace. Like a moth approaching a flame, I drew close to the object of my desire, dying in self-surrender
In Ruth Skogland’s, Bright Days, Dark Nights, I read part of a sermon by Charles Spurgeon: “The Savior passed through the brook, but He drank by the brook on the way….He had to bear the burden not with His shoulders omnipotent, but with shoulders that were bending to the earth. You and I must not always expect a giant faith that can move mountains.”

Reading Psalm 88, I took comfort from the fact that another had waded through waters as deep as mine.

You have put me in the lowest pit,
In the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily upon me;
You have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
You have taken from me my closest friends.
I am confined and cannot escape;
My eyes are dim with grief …
Why, O Lord, do you reject me
And hide your faith from me?
From my youth, I have been afflicted and close to death;
and have made me repulsive to them
I have suffered your terrors and am in despair.
Your wrath has swept over me;
Your terrors have destroyed me.
All day long they surround me like a flood;
They have completely engulfed me.
You have taken my companions and loved ones from me;
The darkness is my closest friend (:6-9;14-18).


Jesus felt the most forlorn and forsaken at a time when God was never so near. In my failing, flailing faith, I had only to abide with Him on the cross without striving for hope or sacred feelings. I saw that I can never, in fact, lose my faith. Like a metaphysical boomerang, the greater my forsakenness, the closer will be my adherence to Jesus.

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