Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.
As time goes by, we seem to wonder, more deeply, about life, our fallibility and our mortality. When we were younger, we would laugh at older people talking about their ills, and now we are the ones who have taken their place.
Some of us do go through questions about our understanding of our connection to God. Some of us do think that some of the customs and rituals associated with faith are just mumbo-jumbo – a collection of words that holds no significance to our lives today. We repeat them because we have done so for so long.
Some time ago, I was amused at the commotion made about the revelation that Mother Teresa, through her writings, expressed serious doubts about her faith and relationship with God. Darkness seemed to be everywhere, and when she cried out to her Savior to answer her prayers, there was emptiness.
Crisis of faith – Sometimes in our zeal to find solutions to problems, we become frustrated because the solutions seem remote. I would suggest that our expectations are unrealistic.
Crisis of faith – There are certain givens – sickness and poverty will always exist. Our job is not to eliminate, but relieve.
Crisis of faith – Illness is part of our journey, and wishes for health may not be possible. So, our responsibility lies in trying to cope.
Mother Teresa was no exception when she questioned her ability to make a difference. Those who work in the vineyard of care and concern will always go through doubts, because there is so much despair and gloom. We question the existence of God as we witness so much agony. Is it any wonder she had doubts?
Perhaps she felt overwhelmed, and instead of remembering all the good she accomplished, she just thought of all that needs to be done. She forgot when she visited the sick or dying that her function was not to cure, but console – not eliminate misery, but comfort those who are experiencing the difficulties associated with living or wondering about death. I believe in her zeal to accomplish the impossible, she lost sight of the true meaning of faith – the ability to absorb others’ pain, to express sorrow and regret, to teach the essence of prayer, for that is the comfort that God offers us in times of turbulence.
Our prayers should contain thanks to God for all sorts of things – for breath, for sight, for smell, for touch. And then we should ask God to hear our prayers – listen to us as we endeavor to create an atmosphere of communication. Mother Teresa was noted to say that we may not always hear the answer, but that does not relieve us of the obligation to continue to dialogue or search for the answer or embark on that journey – the journey that will increase our faith – not diminish it. This is what faith is all about.