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Reform Magazine | September 20, 2019

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Mother Teresa’s doubt and faithfulness

Mother Teresa’s doubt and faithfulness

The story of Mother Teresa’s long struggle shows that Christian life is built on faithfulness, not faith, as Steve Chalke discovers

During her lifelong service to the poorest of the poor, Anjezë Bojaxhiu, or Teresa as she was much better known, became an icon of Christian faith in action. Her extraordinary compassion for the sick, the dying and thousands of others whom nobody was prepared to care for, has been acclaimed across the globe.

But after her death in 1997, a collection of Teresa’s private letters was put together which revealed a secret dimension to her story. She had spent almost 50 years of her life feeling almost completely disconnected from God and often doubting God’s very existence.

Back in 1946, after 17 years working as a teacher in Calcutta, Mother Teresa, then 36, went on retreat to the Himalayan foothills. On the journey there, she says that she felt Christ calling her to abandon the safety of her role at school and go to work in the slums of the city with the poorest of the poor – the sick, the dying, beggars and street children. She said that she heard the voice of Jesus himself challenging her to ‘come be my light’.

Two years later, in 1948, Teresa was finally given permission by her seniors to embark on what would become her lifetime vocation among the poor and dying. She wrote: ‘My soul at present is in perfect peace and joy.’ But within two months of beginning her new work, she was struggling: ‘What tortures of loneliness … I wonder how long will my heart suffer this?’…

Steve Chalke is Minister of Oasis Church, London and founder of Oasis Charitable Trust. This article is an extract from his book The Lost Message of Paul (SPCK, 2019)

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the June 2019 edition of Reform

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