At about 5 feet tall, the smiling, diminutive Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu looked to be the model of peace and tranquility. At the pinnacle of her success, the guest of both the powerful and the poor, she was admired around the world. The founder of the Missionaries of Charity, however, fought a personal battle few knew anything about. In “The Private Writings of the ‘Saint of Calcutta,’” better known as Mother Teresa, Brian Kolodiejchuk quotes (page 187) an article she wrote as a prayer and sent to Father Picachy on July 3, 1959:
“The loneliness of the heart that wants love is unbearable. – Where is my faith? – Even deep down, right in, there is nothing but emptiness & darkness. – My God – how painful is this unknown pain. It pains without ceasing. – I have no faith. … I am told God loves me – and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.”
A saint she may have been, but life was no cakewalk for even this dedicated lady of the Church. Like the rest of us, she was human and had her own battles to fight, but she learned from her experiences, held steady amid the pressures, and the world has benefited from the result.
Christianity does not propose a life of ease and tranquility. Jesus Himself forewarned His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Life, the daily routine of living, is the crucible in which character is developed.
Maturity does not come easy. I know of no way to learn those fundamental qualities of life so necessary for our development such as patience, kindness, honesty, integrity, humility, self-discipline, perseverance … and I could go on. These important indicators of a stable character are developed only amid the pressures of life. There is no easy out!
I must tell you from personal experience that life can sometimes throw us some very wicked curves. And not always because we have done something stupid, lost our common sense, or indulged in something we knew was wrong. Sometimes life just hits us between the eyes. Talk to me about bankruptcy, about cancer, about nightmarish days, and sleepless nights. Believe me when I tell you I, too, have been there. Life is tough! The question is not whether we have reached depths of despair we cannot even put into words; the question is, what did we do about it?
Fortunately, there was and is, for many of us, a light at the end of our tunnel. I take seriously a promise Jesus made when He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
There is something real and life-changing that comes with a relationship with Jesus Christ. But Christianity is not something I believe in because it’s convenient. To be honest, that’s not always the case. When a person, however, is conscious of living under the watchful care of a loving God, there is peace of mind, rest despite life’s pressures, and the exhilarating promise that heaven awaits.
It is, then, with reason, I believe 2022 will be the best year of my life … and I can hardly wait!