Saturday, November 10, 2007

Strong Enough To Be Honest

There has been some issue being raised about the private letters of Mother Teressa. In them she expresses doubt and disillusionment with God. She openly struggles with what God is doing and whether He is even there in the first place.

Of course this has brought out many in the atheist community to pooh-pooh on her faith with the "see we told you so" babble.

You know what though, I have to admit, if I had no faith, I would probably form similar opinions about the "Saint of Calcutta" concerning this matter. However, after closer examination I realize that even the giants of our faith, the patriarch's, especially David, wrestled with doubt and confusion concerning the where-a-bouts of God, what He was doing and how long was He going to allow injustice to continue. If you take an honest look at Mother Teressa's life hers is one of similar struggle. She went to the poorest place on the face of the Earth and let the light of love shine in the darkness. She did so in the name of Jesus; to bring the Kingdom to Earth to those who would otherwise never experience it. I would dare say that, were it not for Mother Teressa, those people would still be waiting!

I can only presume the source of such a crisis of faith, but if I were to venture a guess I would be willing to bet that Mother Teressa was looking at the whole of her ministry to the poor, diseased and rejected and was wondering what it all was for. What difference was she making? After all this time, Calcutta is still arguably one of the worst places on Earth. She buries the dead every day. People still go hungry. They are still sick and diseased. All she could do was love them through this hell and she was doubting her impact. She was angry with the conditions there and the hopelessness of the people who are its residents. When you reach the end of your life you want to know that what you have done has made a difference.

I would be willing to bet Mother Teressa was examining the scope of her life and work and began to wonder why God has not done more to change the people and conditions of Calcutta. It all seems quite natural to me. It also makes such a person 'human'. The life of mother Teressa was so transcendent from the world in which she lived that we looked at her as someone who was almost superhuman. In fact, she asked the same questions most of us have asked and felt the things we have felt about God's sovereignty... which makes her one of us (to the great relief of the atheist I might add).

This reminds me of John the Baptist. Jesus called him the greatest of all the prophets. He ushered in the readiness of the coming Messiah, preached with boldness and spoke out against the religious hypocrisy of his day. He was a giant of faith full of the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet we read that once he was imprisoned he begins to wrestle. He doubts. He questions. He sent his disciples out to ask Jesus if he was the Christ written about in Scripture or should he expect another. Jesus has to encourage John with the truth of the Scripture that showed he was indeed the Christ; that John's work had not been in vain; that the work John had prepared for his whole life was not for nothing, but rather, that it had fulfilled the purpose of God. Mother Teressa needed the same encouragement.

Like Mother Teressa, John's crisis was not the result of a lack of faith, but rather, the result of a faith strong enough to be honest.

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