Perseverance in Difficult Times

by Mark Votava


Sometimes life is hard, things don’t make sense to us anymore, our perceptions and expectations are shattered and we are walking wounded in life.  I have experienced these times often.  But I am learning to walk in the dark where I cannot fully understand the pain and struggle in the present moment.  Clarity seems like it will never be found, but if I persevere I trust there is beauty, deep wisdom, enlightenment and discovery that will be revealed in everyday life in the world I live in.

  •  Inhabiting a place over a long period of time can be difficult at times

Living by the mystical imagination, living by faith and inhabiting a place over a long period of time can be difficult at times.  We will feel the blow of the empire at times, but the mystical imagination will help us to persevere in our difficulties.  Living by faith can lead us to some dark places where we question our faithfulness, want to give up and do not see how our life has any meaning whatsoever.  And we will struggle to find some freedom at times.

  •  Part of God’s process of teaching us what we cannot always understand

But this is a part of God’s process of teaching us what we cannot always understand presently.  These times teach us to live by faith.  We begin to understand more what this means.  Thomas Merton says, “But when the time comes to enter the darkness in which we are naked and helpless and alone; in which we see the insufficiency of our greatest strength and the hollowness of our strongest virtues; in which we have nothing of our own to rely on, and nothing in our nature to support us, and nothing in the world to guide us or give us light – then we find out whether or not we live by faith.”

  •  Will we show love and humility through our pain?

Will we abandon God when we feel the darkness of being alone, rejected, misunderstood and powerless?  Will we live by faith in these times?  Will we run away and hide from others and God?  Or will we show love and humility through our pain?

  •  Waiting for a better season of recognized beauty

Will we allow ourselves to be insecure and afraid for awhile waiting for a better season of recognized beauty?  When we are cold and it is raining, when we are wet and shivering, will we turn away from living by faith?  Will our imagination die in these times?  The mystical imagination is not so phased by these times.

  • Having the imagination to persevere

The mystical imagination sees these times as a different season in which we will experience God in ways that are less familiar to us in the parish.  The body of Christ will struggle at times to be a holistic counterculture in the process of sharing life and learning to love.  This is no easy task and goes against almost all of the structures of our culture.  Our freedom will sometimes lead us to these times, but we have the imagination to persevere.

How can we live by faith and recognize the beauty of what God is doing in difficult seasons of life?