Daily Riches: An Enhanced, Enlightened Life Through Desolation and Affliction? (Malcolm Muggeridge, Richard Rohr & Catharine von Schlegel)

“Contrary to what might be expected, I look  back on experience that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained.” Malcolm Muggeridge

“What the saints and mystics say is that some event, struggle, relationship, or suffering in your life has to lead you to the edge of your own resources. There has to be something that you by yourself cannot understand, fix, control, change, or even begin to deal with. It is the raw experience of ‘I cannot do this.’ All you can do at this point is wait and ask and trust.” Richard Rohr

“Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

“Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.”

Hymn lyrics by Catharine Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel, composer: Jean Sibelius (“Finlandia”)

“Be still, and know that I am God….” Psalm 46:10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is what Muggeridge and Rohr say believable to you? Can you think of ways your life been enhanced by affliction?
  • Can you trust God to be faithful in the future as he has been in the past? that “all now mysterious shall be bright at last?”
  • What is “taken away” from us creates a kind of spaciousness. Can you wait for God to fill that space, rather than attempting to fill it yourself?

Abba, I will still my soul. I will be still before you. I want to know what the waves and winds still know. I want to know in my deepest self that you are God.


For More: Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan


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: 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


The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)