Wandering Through the Deserts of Doubt

For all my frequent declarations that the best in my life is yet to come, I also sometimes feel that there is nothing more for me here and so I should just disappear. These are the times when I get lost in the desert of doubts and beset by desolation. At times like these, I feel like Thomas wanting to put my finger on His side. Or like Nicodemus bedeviled by all sorts of questions. I have to restrain myself and pray, “I will not put the Lord to the test.”

Sure, I have many moments of consolation and deep spiritual joy. But just as morning follows night, moments of desolation are certain to happen. So, is life but just a zero-sum game, with consolation and desolation canceling out each other? Must I just try to weather out the storm and wait for the sunshine to come again? Is this yearning in me for eternal sunshine and unending joy for real or just one cosmic illusion?

Like Nicodemus, I turn to Jesus with my questions and my doubts. But, during moments of my desolation, His words often do not make sense. Like, be born again? Or, take up the cross? Or, be humble to be exalted and be the last in order to be first?

I grope. I search. I cling on to something familiar until this blows over.

“Should my heart not be humble, should my eyes fail to see,
Should my feet sometimes stumble on the way, stay with me.
Like the lamb that in springtime wanders far from the fold,
Comes the darkness and the frost, I get lost, I grow cold.
I grow cold, I grow weary, and I know I have sinned,
And I go seeking shelter and I cry in the wind.
Though I grope and I blunder and I’m weak and I’m wrong,
Though the road buckles under where I walk, walk along.
Till I find to my wonder every path leads to Thee,
All that I can do is pray, stay with me,
Stay with me.”

Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.
~ Psalm 2

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
He came to Jesus at night and said to him,
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God,
for no one can do these signs that you are doing
unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to him,
“How can a man once grown old be born again?
Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”
Jesus answered,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born of water and Spirit
he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
What is born of flesh is flesh
and what is born of spirit is spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you,
‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills,
and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:1-8

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