Desolation is the worst. It can come so slowly that you don’t even see it until you suddenly realize you’re in darkness. Spiritual desolation can take different forms and can occur for many reasons; it can involve spiritual darkness and turmoil, doubts, increased temptation, restlessness, and anxiety. St. Ignatius says that feelings of desolation “move one toward lack of faith and leave one without hope and without love.”
Without hope and without love.
But not without God. Even in desolation, God is with us. Even in turmoil and darkness, God is victorious. And He longs for us to be filled with hope and love again.
Recently, I went through some rough spiritual desolation. It lasted far too long and left me without hope and without love, but never without God. During this time God was good to me, even though I couldn’t see it. He put people in my life who journeyed with me (and continue to journey with me) toward Christ. He poured graces into my soul that pulled me back to Him. Through perseverance, prayer warriors, friends, and (most importantly) the Sacraments, consolation returned to me. Love and hope returned to me. This desolation was brutal, but it brought growth and gratitude. It strengthened my friendships and community, and it strengthened my relationship with Christ.
Because we are not made to be left in darkness, in brokenness, in despair. We are not made to be left without hope and without love. Frequent the Sacraments, frequent prayer, frequent community and support and encouragement. Seek God always and you will always find Him.
And I know that the journey isn’t over. The journey will never be over, not until I am united perfectly with God in Heaven. This is only the beginning. Desolation will come again and struggles will find me when I’m at my weakest, but God is good. He is loving and merciful and good.
*Photo credit to Dr. John McCullough*[No tags for this post.]