Daily Riches: Desolation’s Gift (Ruth Barrows and Kathleen Norris) *

“‘God is trying to get us to accept a state where we have no assurance within that all is well … where no clear path lies before us, where there is no way; a state of spiritual inadequacy experienced in it’s raw, humiliating bitterness.’ Only when we admit that we have “no way” do we have any hope of finding one. Out of what seems desolate a newly vigorous faith can arise, a certainty that is not subject to changes in moods or feelings, or the vicissitudes of life.” Kathleen Norris, quoting Carmelite Ruth Burrows

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way,
consider it an opportunity for great joy.
for when your endurance is fully developed,
you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:2,4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Our first response is not usually to look at “desolation” and “troubles” as gifts or an “opportunity for great joy.” Burrows, Norris and James team up to convince us otherwise.
  • Being “complete” (James) sounds a lot like Norris’s “vigorous faith” … not subject to changes in moods or feelings, or the vicissitudes of life.” Have you experienced the kind of faith that transcends feelings and circumstances? If so, did you learn it in times of ease, or in times of trouble?
  • Have you ever thought of desolation as God’s gift to you as his child – “giving” trouble into your life so you enter a state where “there is no way?”  where you experience “spiritual inadequacy” and “humiliating bitterness?” I imagine for many who follow Jesus, that would be a new, and perhaps disturbing thought. It sounds pretty brutal. Might it be true?
  • Can you embrace desolation in your life in order to receive its gift? Perhaps if we can remember the ministry of desolation in our lives, we won’t refuse it. Is there desolation at work right now in your life? Will you embrace it?

Abba, thank you for working in me to make me whole. Help me to embrace your sometimes painful love.


For More: Acedia & Me by Kathleen Norris


“There grows in me an immense dissatisfaction with all that is merely passively accepted as truth, without struggle and without examination. Faith, surely, is not passive, and not an evasion. And today, more than ever, the things we believe, I mean especially the things we accept on human faith—reported matters of ‘fact,’ questions of history, of policy, of interpretation, of wants—they should be very few.” Thomas Merton   These Daily Riches are designed to encourage examination of convictions, of faith, so that we increasingly trust in the God who is really there, and less in our ideas of Him. Thanks for reading and sharing my daily blog. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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