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An Accurate Indicator of Faith

Imagine yourself lying in bed some night: You have just had a good time in prayer and are flooded with feelings and images about God. You have strong, clear feelings that God exists. On that particular evening you have no faith doubts; you can feel the existence of God.

Now, imagine another night, a darker one. You wake up from a fitful sleep and are overwhelmed by the sense that you don’t believe in God. You try to convince yourself that you still believe, but you cannot. Every attempt to imagine that God exists and to feel his presence comes up empty. You feel an overwhelming emptiness inside because of that feeling. Try as you like, you cannot shake the feeling that you no longer believe. Try as you like, you can no longer regain the solid ground on which you once stood. Try as you like, you can no longer make yourself feel the existence of God.

Does this mean that on one of these nights you have a strong faith and on the other you have a weak one? Not necessarily. It can just as easily mean that on one night you have a strong imagination and on the other you have a weak one. On one night you can imagine the presence of God and on the other night you cannot imagine it. Imagination isn’t faith.

We all have had the experience of being inside of certain commitments (marriage, family, church) where, at times, our heads and our hearts are not there, but we are there! The head tells us this doesnít make sense; the heart lacks the proper warm feelings to keep us there; but we remain there, held by something deeper, something beyond what we can explain or feel. This is where faith lives, and this is what faith means.

Mother Teresa, for long periods of time, suffered anguish inside of her head and heart every time she tried to imagine the existence of God. Yet her life indicated she believed in the existence of God. Her problem was that the human imagination has limits.  Simply put, she couldn’t picture how God exists.

But nobody can picture God because the finite can never picture the infinite, though it can sense it and know it in ways beyond what the head can imagine and the heart can feel.

Being unable to imagine God’s existence is not the same thing as not believing. Our actions are always a more accurate indication of faith than are any feelings about God on a given day.

Source: Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter byRon Rolheiser, OMI  Product ID 828201, © 2020 Liguori Publications.  To order, visit or call 800-325-9521.

Published inReflections