“Then to the trials which come from God are joined the temptations of the devil. The soul finds herself stained with thoughts against purity, against faith and hope and charity; then she begins no longer to rely on her own strength or her own virtue; she thinks herself stained with sin, and her director has much trouble in persuading her that she has not consented to the suggestions of the devil. The temptations are always increasing, and her resistance, I do not say really, but apparently, is always growing weaker, in such a manner that at last the soul imagines she has consented; she sees herself covered with sins, and for this reason she imagines herself rejected by God and forsaken by Him: it is now that self-love is really desolate, and finds the greatest difficulty in serving God for Himself alone, without any consolation. This state lasts until the soul learns to seek herself in nothing. Then self-love leaves her at last and for ever.” (p. 304-05.)
The experience Grou is describing here is the growing pain of God’s apparent absence amplified by a growing sense of the enemy’s increased attacks. I do not think that I have done well in this place resisting the temptations of the devil. I have seen self-love become demanding, whiney and trying to take the wheel. Grou claims that self-love will actually and finally leave at last. I can hardly imagine such a thing. He says that this happens only when my soul learns to seek myself in nothing and seek God even without any consolation to encourage or sustain me. At least I can say there are plenty of “grow places” for me on this journey!
Personally, we have been amazed recently at how God has relieved our years-long financial pressures, but then allowed a summer of Gem’s severe back pain to press and test us from a different direction. It has exposed places of real weakness and failing on my part, but it has also been the opportunity to draw on the actual resources and compassion of Christ in me…then through me.
As Grou suggests, all of this aims at bringing me to places of utter desolation as it relates to trusting in myself. I have to see that apart from God, I really have no resources, no capacities, no abilities. He Himself is my strength, my compassion, my energy, my creativity. Whatever attempts I’ve made to live my life apart from God, no matter how subtle those patterns are, have to be brought into the refining light of God to be laid bare and seen as utterly void, empty and powerless.
Read part four