Ignatius of Loyola is quoted as saying, “God loves me more than I can love myself.” Ignatius makes this statement in his reference to why God allows individuals to experience spititual desolation. In this life, we need times of spiritual desolation to strengthen our faith.
Now it is important to know that Ignatius does not believe God causes spiritual desolaton, but allows it for redemptive purposes. God allows it for the purpose of conversion (not the classical “pray the salvation prayer” kind of conversion, but the process of salvation conversion when God’s children begin to wander away). God allows spiritual desolation in order to reveal to us our own level of spiritual commitment, and God allows spiritual desolation for the purpose of humility and thankfulness.
I believe that spiritual desolation is the way of the world. God is not the author of spiritual desolation. Spiritual desolation is a certainty due to the existence of the principalities and powers along with our own self-serving nature. Our own broken nature wants to push God’s will to the limits. If it was not for God’s prevenient grace, we would all live in a state of a suffering spiritual desolation.
This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. It is a lesson every follower of Jesus must learn if they are going to grow in their faith and good works for the Kingdom. We will encounter spiritual desolation on a regular basis.
As for myself, I have no problem organizing a pity party when spiritual desolation strikes. Oh poor me, I think, will it ever be any better? Will God always seem so distant? Why am I go through this now? Everything seeks so negative during theses times of spiritual desolation. The intensity and duration of the time is never the same. It can be easy to be tempted to give up, think the desolation will never end.
But, of course it will end in spite of how hard it can seem as we are going through it. Usually once we realize that we are in spiritual desolation and understand what the desolation is about we can then take action and resist. We can change our thought. We can take actions contrary to the spiritual desolation. Most important, we can trust that our going through this time will strengthen us.
Our God is a redemptive God. Our God does love us more than we can love ourselves. Our God will always give us the means of strength we need to go through and overcome desolation. It is Paul who reminds us out of his own experience, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. “(2 Cor. 12:9 NRS)