Thursday, 17 January 2013

Note on Confidence and Abandonment

God sometimes seems to have abandoned us, to have withdrawn the feeling and the awareness of His presence from us. We feel as if He is not with us, as if He is no longer supporting us and holding us up, as we continue to tread through life, falling here and there, becoming more and more miserable as we go along. It seems as though God is no longer guiding us through life, as though we are completely lost; God has ceased to provide us with the light necessary to know which way to turn. He seems to no longer care about us, no longer to love us. And so we blindly stumble along through the miseries of life, wanting to cry in anguish and despair, no longer feeling able to trust in God.

But for all this, God has not abandoned us, indeed. He does this to us deliberately. He withdraws the feeling of His presence from us, but does not withdraw His true presence. God is always with us, even when we do not feel it. Indeed, it is when He has withdrawn the feeling of His presence from us that He is actually closest to us; for in this apparent withdrawal of Himself he provides us many great graces and opportunities to prove our love for and confidence in Him; it is in times like these that we have the greatest opportunity to grow in holiness. Thus, even if we feel like we are unable to trust and love Him, we are able.

The key, when God seems to have abandoned us, is to abandon ourselves completely to the work of His providence, to let His hand alone guide us, to accept whatever He sends us. It must be unconditional. Our sole desire must be for whatever God wills for us. We must abandon our own self-will and seek to make God's Will our own, by throwing ourselves into His arms and letting Him carry us. We must not seek to guide ourselves; we must not seek to direct our own paths; we must not have confidence in our selves - yes, that self-confidence which the world so often advises is a vice which must be shunned. Rather, our confidence and our trust must be placed completely and solely in the providence of God. And thus we will prove our love of Him.

That said, this trust in and love for Him will likely not be accompanied by the warmth of the emotions or feelings of hope, or trust, or love. At times like these we do not feel the presence of God, and so we do not feel any sensible love or hope towards Him; we lack sensible consolation. But we can know intellectually and by the virtue of faith that God is with us; and on the same level, we can, with our free will, abandon ourselves with complete confidence to His providence. But it will be an act of the will alone, and thus it will at first be cold and unfeeling, sorely lacking in the warmth of emotion. But that is the proof of love. If we persevere through this lack of sensible consolation, the lack of any pleasurable emotions which may come with our devotion, we will eventually discover the much greater warmth which accompanies the pure act of the will in its final union with the Will of God.

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