“Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.”
— Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979
The great silence of God I was experiencing drove me to pursue Him more. My disciplines improved, with the exception of prayer. Interceding for family and friends wasn’t hard, I figured He’d still hear those prayers said in behalf of others. But would He hear the distraught pleas from me, about me? If He wasn’t speaking, He might not be listening, either. Slowly, I sank into a depression. His silence felt like death.
In his absence, I fear the attack of Satan. I’m not certain of my ability to fight him off. Clearly, I am not able. Will Jesus be there to fight for me? Will I hear the scuffle in the darkness of my King doing battle with the enemy?
Or will I be alone, with the only weapon I have? Standing armed with my can of Spiritual bear mace, the Word of God. Speaking in faith that His promises are true.
Just before Palm Sunday, a family member became gravely ill. Visiting her, and relatives at the hospital left me feeling empty and helpless. I could not even pray words of comfort over my loved ones. She died a few hours later.
After the funeral, sitting around the kitchen table, my sister-in-law talked about attending to her Mother, and watching her final breath. In that moment, it was as if God unleashed a flood on me. Words, images, promises, truth, and life overwhelmed my heart. God spoke. And through blurry, tear-filled eyes of gratitude, I wrote it down.
Holy Week was an amazing time of experiencing His Presence and enjoying His company in a new and fresh way. It was a rekindled romance. Then as quickly as He returned, He backed out of the room, and I watched Him go. It is quiet once again. This was what I feared most, and expressed to my pastor, “What if God goes silent again?” It’s more frightening to consider it, to anticipate it. It’s not as scary to be in the throes of it again. Not at this moment, anyway. It’s familiar. Perhaps there’s calm because I’m expecting my Lord to burst in the door at any moment, smiling, holding two coffees. Ready to sit and have a long, loving conversation with me.
Despite the pain of this silence, there are some things I know to be true. God’s silence is proof that nothing can be enjoyed fully without His Presence. It is a purification for the stubbornest of wills. In this case, mine. God quietly purges the soul of self in the darkness. I also shouldn’t feel responsible for affecting it, hard as it may be. And last, feeling Jesus is not the only proof of His being there. I think that craving His presence is clearly a sign of His presence, hidden. A call to dig deeper. A spiritual free dive of faith, if you will. Into darkness.