It's the cover article in Time magazine this week; "The Secret Life of Mother Teresa." It may be simply a marketing ploy for a new book which publishes some of her letters, but it plays on the enormous ignorance that so many otherwise educated, bright Americans have about spirituality. Of course, Mother Teresa had doubts and felt that God was silent; of course she struggled with her spiritual life, that's true for all people with mature faith. The extremes of feeling that God is always tangibly present in your life or that He does not exist at all are the binary world of those with an immature faith. When a person works through the "black and white" world of disbelief and intense belief, as well as the cynicism that eventually results from intense belief, he or she comes to the more mysterious stage in which God's presence and His purposes are certain, yet co-exist with questions that cannot be answered, failed prophets, flawed saints, the immense sense of the evil in the universe, the suffering of God and His divine patience.
It is stunning, amazing that so many people are so unaware of this reality. I have for some time (based on various research, some of my own and some by colleagues) felt that a major problem facing the Christian Church is the very small numbers of people with real spiritual maturity. The growing number of people with no particular faith or spiritual training has added to this, of course. That this story would be news is certainly additional proof.
Read the papers of all the great spiritual figures of history, the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Ellen White, Gandhi, M. L. King, and they all have deep feelings of doubt, feelings that God is far off and they are all alone with terrible burdens. Anyone who has read the real literature of spirituality (as opposed to the BS sold as "spirituality" at Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.) has long ago discovered this "secret."
One dimension of this is the inevitable result of the greatly enhanced empathy toward the poor and oppressed that is often characteristic of towering spiritual giants like Mother Teresa. If you spend a lifetime living with the suffering and downtrodden instead of the scrubbed and comfortable, you begin to finally sense the vast, vast evil in our universe and just how terrible, sad and broken it is, as well as the reality of God's suffering from this evil. Conventional spirituality pictures God as above it all, untouched by the evil in the world, able to end it at any moment and simply biding His time. What Jesus was trying to say in Matthew 25 when He said, "I was hungry ... I was poor ... I was sick ... I was a prisoner ... I was an alien," is that evil really hurts God. Sin is not sin just as a matter of divine logic or will or law, but it is real pain, authentic torture for God Himself! The cosmological war between Evil and God pushes God to the edge, to His very limits. It requires of Him the last ounce of His divinity. Without the spiritual maturity that comes from a lifetime of serving the poor and struggling against Evil, as Mother Teresa lived it, a person simply cannot sense the profound silence, the deep hurt in God's heart. He is silent because He has nothing to say, because He is preoccupied with weeping!