I am a product of the best in evangelicalism: converted 32 years ago in a flood of tears after hearing the gospel, discipled by a strong prayer group, taught by great theologians. I know the strength of evangelicalism in bringing people to an intimate relationship with Jesus.Very powerful stuff. [snip]
But what happens when you have relied on this intimacy and the day comes when God seems distant? What happens in the dark night of the soul?
I found out this past year. Weeks after finishing The Good Life, my son Wendell was diagnosed with bone cancer. The operation to remove a malignant tumor took 10 hours—the longest day of my life. Wendell survived, but he's still in chemo.
I had barely caught my breath when my daughter, Emily, was diagnosed with melanoma.
Back in the hospital, I again prayed fervently. Soon after, my wife, Patty, underwent major knee surgery. Where was my good life?
The point of these older traditions is that faith becomes strongest when we are without consolation and must walk into the darkness with complete abandon.I was reminded of Mother Teresa's "dark night" that pretty much lasted most of her life. That still blows me away!
Faith isn't really faith if we can always rely on the still, small voice of God cheering us on. A prominent pastor once told me he experienced the Holy Spirit's presence every moment. Contemporary evangelicals regard this as maturity. Perhaps it is—or maybe it is a form of presumption. True faith trusts even when every outward reality tells us there is no reason to.
Over at Open Book, this post has lead to a nice cyberfight (in the blogosphere? Never!). Old Zhou, a prolific and extremely wise commentator at Open Book has some very good insights.