Men and women who have gone through a divorce can offer many descriptions about what it’s like to experience the loss of a marriage. They compare it to falling down a well and not being able to get out, or wandering in a seemingly endless desert and never coming across an oasis. I have often described my own divorce and post-divorce years as being similar to standing alone in the middle of a room in total darkness. I didn’t know how to get out. All I was able to do was feel my way around in the darkness, try not to get hurt by what I couldn’t see, and search for the light switch so I could turn on the lights.
It’s experiences like these that can affect a person so harshly and is why oftentimes you might just beg God to tell you why He’s allowing this kind of suffering to happen to you. You can’t see a good reason for it and you can’t understand God’s way of doing things. But inevitably, it’s only when you come out on the other side of suffering that you begin to understand, even if it’s not a complete understanding.
Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer, author of the powerful book, The Gift of Faith, writes:
Faith does not remove the darkness, it does just the opposite; it requires it.
This idea that darkness in your life is required for your faith to help you really is kind of the opposite of the way we normally look at things, wouldn’t you say?
For example, when my ex-spouse walked out on me, I was shocked, appalled, and indignant. What’s interesting to me about that to me now, is that I didn’t feel that way simply because he left. I felt that way also because I couldn’t believe God would let that happen to me.
It was as if my Catholic faith was supposed to be an insurance policy against trials; as if it were supposed to protect me from the darkness, when in reality, it was the very thing I needed for my faith to grow. I remember thinking, “I’ve been a good Catholic all my life, Lord. I never miss mass, I go to confession frequently, I share my faith with others, etc. How could you let me get divorced? Well the answer to that question opened my eyes to the reality that not only was God drawing me closer to Him through this terrible divorce, but He was also allowing me to experience humility. Being a good Catholic should not set me apart from other people, it should connect me with them all the more. It shouldn’t be a holier than thou identity, it should make me more compassionate. And in receiving my heavy cross, I should look to Christ for advice on how to carry it. These were just a few of the lessons I learned through faith because of the darkness.
Fr. Dajczer continues to illustrate his point:
When it seems to us that Jesus is silent and absent, it is not really so. This is indicated by the words God told St. Teresa of Avila: “When you thought that you were alone, I was nearest to you.” When you feel very alone, when it is hard for you, when you are experiencing some kind of nakedness, He is closest to you. However, He does not give you signs because He wants you to trust in Him even more.
It’s much easier to see God’s work in your life when you look back. You can’t always understand in the present. For this reason, you should never give up your faith in God. Although you may not understand what He is doing or why He is doing it, trust Him that in His love for you, He knows what He is doing and will bring you into the fullness of light if you hang in there and trust Him.