Mother Teresa’s dark night of the soul

For more than 50 years of her life, “Mother Teresa was wrapped in a dark, pitiless silence”, according the soon-to-be-saint’s biographer, David Scott.

After hearing the “call within a call”, Teresa only heard the voice of God once more before her death. She experienced what St John of the Cross described as the “dark night of the soul”. She wrote frequently about loneliness, not hearing from God, fear of hypocrisy and doubts.

In one of the letters published after her death, she wrote: “Darkness is such that I really do not see – neither with my mind nor with my reason – the place of God in my soul is blank – There is no God in men – when the pain of longing is so great – I just long and long for God… The torture and pain I can’t explain.”

It is tempting to ignore this side of Mother Teresa, focusing instead on her selfless service of the poor and the joy with which it seemed she lived.

But to do so would be a mistake.

We naturally shy away from the harsher realities of following Jesus, not wanting to examine them too closely, unless we – ourselves – get infected. We want the Christianity that brings joy and laughter, not emptiness and pain. Yet, to refuse to engage with the reality that we will have times of being in the wilderness is dangerous.


There will be times of wilderness, whether we like it or not. We have all been there, or will be there, when we pray to God, earnestly seeking to hear from him and we get nothing. The heavens are silent.

These times might not last 50 years, but they are an inevitable part of the Christian journey.

The Bible tells the story of a man name Job, who was well acquainted with this silence. In his pain, he cried out to God, yet these cries were answered with a deafening silence for 37 chapters. But the story does not end there. He chose to hope in the Lord, despite the circumstances, and the Lord was faithful. Continue reading

  • Florence Taylor is a Junior Staff Writer for Christian Today.
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