If you ever felt helpless and deserted, abandoned and rejected, alone and excluded, you might have experienced what Habakkuk felt and you probably can relate with what he prayed, “How long, O Lord! I cry for help but you do not listen? Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?”
St. John of the Cross described these moments in a person’s life as the “dark night of the soul.” I know of a saintly woman in our generation who wrote that she felt this terrible sense of loss, this untold darkness, this loneliness, this continual longing for God, which gives her that pain deep down in her heart. That woman was Mother Teresa.
Need we forget that during these difficult moments, we need to pray like the disciples did, “Increase our faith.” What is faith? Just like the essential things in life, like love and hope, faith is better described than defined, better felt than known, better expressed than understood.
Faith gives us the assurance that things will be better. Faith makes us realize not only that help is on the way but help has always been on our way. And faith gives us the power to do the impossible and the ability to understand the unbelievable
We express our faith in so many different ways. The following are letters written by children to their priests. One says, “Dear Father, my father should be a priest like you. Every day he gives us a sermon on something.” Another asks, “Dear Father, are there any devils left on earth? I think there may be one in my class.” Also, “Father, I would like to go to heaven because I know my sister won’t be there.”
It is difficult to find faith with people who live lives of pleasure and comfort. It is hard to find faith when things are going our way in the way we want them to be. And faith can sometimes be elusive when we are not suffering and when we are not tempted.
Why do some people lose faith? I could think of three reasons for now. First, people lose faith because they relied on their senses alone. What they saw, heard, smelled, tasted and touched are just microcosmic particles of God’s sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Since we are human beings, we will always be limited by our senses. All that we have seen teaches us to trust God for all we have not seen. Never lose God just because you found some imperfection in His creation. If this world is perfect, there is no more use for heaven. Our world is continually marching to God.
Secondly, people lose faith because they forgot how to kneel down and surrender themselves before their Creator. Snakes and serpents cannot kneel, but camels do that is why camels were there in Bethlehem that Christmas morning. The person who kneels before God can stand before any problem and before anyone. Somebody once wrote that if God asks us to bend, bend and do not complain. He is making us more flexible, and for this, we should be thankful. Sometimes we question God, but it takes awhile for him to answer. If we want immediate answers to our questions, I am afraid that He will just say, "If you're so anxious for answers, come up here."
And lastly, people lose faith because they forgot that they have company in life. When human beings lose faith in God, they lose faith in human beings. And when we lose faith in human beings, we lose faith in all our doings.
After the Second World War, somebody found an inscription on a wall outside Cologne, Germany. It was written by a Jewish refugee. The writing on the wall says, “I believe in the sun, even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I'm alone. And I believe in God even when He's silent."
Increase our faith. That is our prayer today. When we fail beyond what we expected ourselves to be, when all we hear and see are the imperfections in our world, and when we have fallen and found nobody to hold, we need to increase our faith.
3 October 2010