Daily Riches: Loneliness As a Navigational Aid to God (Thomas Merton)

“If [as the Burt Bacharach song says] Loneliness Remembers (what happiness forgets) then the emptiness of loneliness reminds me of what happiness does not remind me of. That God is more, is greater, fuller – limitless, even. When I am spent He is still full and longing for me to turn, in my vulnerability and scatteredness, to His vast heart of loving provision for my soul. When I feel forsaken and alone – in those moments – I am gifted with an innate holy prodding to submit to no other substitute for satisfaction or comfort. So as great as happiness is in its moment, loneliness by contrast, is not a dead end. It is a navigational aid.”  Jennifer @ blogspot

“Paradoxically, I have found peace because I have always been dissatisfied. My moments of depression and despair turn out to be renewals, new beginnings. If I were once to settle down and be satisfied with the surface of life, with its divisions and its clichés, it would be time to call in the undertaker…. So, then, this dissatisfaction which sometimes used to worry me and has certainly, I know, worried others, has helped me in fact to move freely and even gaily with the stream of life.”  … “Only the man who has had to face despair is really convinced that he needs mercy. Those who do not want mercy never seek it. It is better to find God on the threshold of despair than to risk our lives in a complacency that has never felt the need of forgiveness. A life that is without problems may literally be more hopeless than one that always verges on despair.”  Thomas Merton

If only one person would show some pity;
if only one would turn and comfort me.”
Psalm 69:20

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Many people run from problems like loneliness, depression and despair. Do you? If so, what does your answer say about you?
  • Have you ever allowed loneliness, depression or despair to be a “navigational aid” to lead you to God? If not, why not? How would one do that?
  • Can you see “downward mobility” in all of this – that what seems painful and frustrating might actually be a gift? …that “downward mobility” might be far superior to “upward mobility?”

Abba, remind me when this happens to me.

For More: No Man Is an Island by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Depression As a “Trapdoor” to God (Jim Palmer and Gerald May) *

“I used to be ashamed of my depression, but now I see it’s a secret trapdoor to God. When it hits, I sink down into that black hole and often find Jesus there. … now when I am asked [who Jesus is], I am most inclined to say, ‘Jesus is the one who sits down close to me in my black hole of despair, offering himself until it passes.’” Jim Palmer

“Grace is only truly appreciated and expressed in the actual, immediate experience of real life situations. Finally, it can only be ‘lived into.'” Gerald May

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”] away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have some weakness, hardship, persecution, addiction or other difficulty that causes you to sink down into a “black hole of despair?”
  • Can you imagine Jesus “sitting down close to you” in that dark, painful place and “offering himself until it passes?” Do that now.
  • We often despise our weaknesses, and ourselves for being weak, but the apostle Paul says he is glad for his weaknesses and delights in his difficulties. The next time you visit your own painful “black hole” of trouble, can you wait there for God to make himself known to you in a new and saving way? offering you, not necessarily healing, but the gift of himself? a new sense of his presence? that he is enough?

Abba, thank you for desiring to make yourself known to me in the midst of my most painful experiences. Help me to notice, to listen and learn, to submit, to give thanks, to be comforted, to be changed.

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For More: Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God by Jim Palmer

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God, and as he seeks you. My goal is to provide you with something of uncommon value daily. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)