Father Michael Barrow

From the parish of St Francis of Assisi

When God Seems To Disappear: A Reflection by Fr Michael Barrow, SJ

When God Seems To Disappear: A Reflection by Fr Michael Barrow, SJ

It's not easy to put into words what I mean when I say God is in my life. Occasionally I may have a real awareness of God's presence, but usually just confidence that God is caring for me.

There's a lovely image in the Bible. "In the wilderness, too, you saw him: how the Lord carried you, as a man carries his little child, all along the road you travelled on the way to this place." (Deut 1.31) It is worth reflecting on how God has led you and especially those times when you have most experienced and felt the presence of God. It may be the birth of a child or even receiving bad news – or sometimes for no obvious reason feeling the touch of God. Or perhaps looking back at a time when you were not particularly moved but now you realise how much God was guiding you.

Yet there are times when God seems to disappear completely. I think I believe as much as ever but for no apparent reason any feeling or awareness of God being present seems to disappear. I continue to pray – but it is blind faith. I've been encouraged in this when I realise that great saints and very holy people have experienced the same thing.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, now St Teresa, suffered this emptiness for nearly thirty years of her life. It was only after her death when her spiritual notes were seen, that people realised that this woman apparently so full of joy and the life of the Holy Spirit was struggling on with no feeling of comfort from God.

I have the impression sometimes that the Lord is asking, "Do you love me or the comforting feeling of my presence?" We show our response by what we do, not by what we say - and that may be by simply giving time to prayer and sticking at it even when we seem to be getting nowhere. Believe it or not, this is when our prayer is most valuable.

Fr. Michael

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