Friday, August 24, 2007

Mother Teresa's Private Letters

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

James 2:18 Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

Contradiction or one of God's mysterious sets of truth?

Mother Teresa was an extraordinary woman. After years spent teaching, she found her true work at age 38 in the slums of Calcutta. Most of us have read some of her beautiful, inspirational quotes. We certainly admire the dedication and the success of her work in India. So the publication of her private letters of her times of darkest doubts and the struggles with her faith seem so contradictory to her public profile. How do we reconcile these dark, tormented, hidden feelings with her public persona of trusting faith?

I wish this had come out at a time when I had more time to contemplate this disonance. But preparations for Africa - the have to do to do lists are very loud in my mind. But if I wait a month, this is old news - perhaps the links will be gone.

Jesus had a parable about 2 sons - when asked to do a task - one son said - sure . . .and then did not do it. The other complained but in the end did the work requested. Certainly Jesus also rebuked the religious leaders of the day who did their work not out of love in their hearts but because of ritual and duty.

Everyone goes through periods of doubt and disbelief - times when it seems that God is not answering our prayers, times when God seems far far away. Some people would say that during those times when our heart is not in our "works" that it is hypocritical to continue those good works and ritual worship. On the other hand, from Mother Teresa's story - hers is a story of faith in action - even when she had her darkest, deepest, tormented doubts, she remained faithful. She continued the task that she believed God had given her.

All of us are imperfect lumps of clay. But I think we can learn from Mother Teresa's life how God can use us even when we lack faith, when our inner faith is as small as a tiny mustard seed. Somehow God put something into Mother Teresa's heart that kept her in ministry, kept her putting one foot in front of another, and provided her with words of inspiration that will be passed on to future generations of believers.

I think it encourages us to keep on being "faithful" even when it seems we are just going through the motions. Somehow, through some miracle, God can take those seemingly puny efforts, and make something very beautiful and long lasting.

Mother' Teresa's letters

Mother Teresa's beautiful words of faith

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