Struggle, Doubt and Loving God

I’ve been in a bit of a struggle to love God and to love people. It can be hard to love God in difficult times. In moments of weakness, it’s easy to distrust God, and disbelieve that He truly loves you, that His will is for your best in the light of Eternity.

The greatest discouragement comes when I am unable to love as God wants me to love, when my fallen nature refuses to obey God, and thus end up being unhappy. Then I blame God for my failures, for the difficulties, for the limitations of my own nature, going as far as to doubt some articles of faith and, ultimately, His love.

Yet, I know that to love God and love myself and neighbour – in thought, word, desire, deed and renunciation – in itself is the answer to my doubts and struggles. Here again is the paradox; faced with an inability to love, to carry on trying without passing the blame or doubting His goodness – that in itself is an act of love, more true and real than if there were no struggles or doubts and all was well and merry. And in loving God in this way, we can have the bedrock of joy amidst waves of changing circumstances and the feelings accompanying them. To trust with faith, to be committed to love, and to hope with perseverance – these are rewards in themselves.

O Lord, help me to trust you more (and to take heed of my own words!)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.
(I Peter 1:3–9 RSV)

3 thoughts on “Struggle, Doubt and Loving God”

  1. If you love God because it is easy to, what would be the point of love? It is only through struggles and commitment that you find solace in love. Easy love might as well be lust.

    I love God not because I find it easy, it is because I struggle everyday to seek out love in Him. It is not that He loves us, it is our duty to love Him. If you do not love yourself, you will find it hard to love God.

    Accept who you are, and you will find the God in your own self without all the bullshit that comes along from others. Seek to love your soul first, then love God afterwards. Not the other way around.

    Oh have faith. 🙂

    Peace out.

  2. ———-
    “Easy love might as well be lust.”
    I have no idea where that statement came from, obviously a very remarkable misunderstanding of what love and lust are!
    Love requires someone to love (so yourself, God, etc), and in the sense that TTM is talking about is an act of the will for the good of that person for their own sake and disregarding oneself.
    Lust seeks to use that person for one’s own gratification, treating them like a thing to be exploited not a person to be loved.
    So if desiring the good of others for their own sake comes easily, then brilliant!!! That is what the elect will enjoy in heaven. However that is absolutely nothing like lust, they are mutually contradictory.
    “Accept who you are, and you will find the God in your own self without all the bullshit that comes along from others.”
    If by that you mean accept who he is, and in doing so he will more greatly discover the indwelling of the Holy Spirit from his sacraments of baptism and confirmation then absolutely!
    “Seek to love your soul first, then love God afterwards. Not the other way around.”
    TTM can only truly love himself after first acknowledging God’s love for him because it is only God’s love which gives him a reason to. TTM could only decide that he is loveable if he created himself, and he didn’t, however God created TTM in love which means TTM can recognise that and therefore love himself.

  3. Hi,

    I think the problem is that the popular use of the term “love” is so misleading. Christians tend to use the word with the emphasis on the Agape (Greek term for “selfless love”), whereas in the popular culture the term “love” is fuzzy enough to include “lust” at times. This is why Pope Benedict XVI, in his latest encyclical Deus Caritas Est, asked, “So we need to ask: are all these forms of love basically one, so that love, in its many and varied manifestations, is ultimately a single reality, or are we merely using the same word to designate totally different realities?”. It’s a question that needs to be asked often today, and the Pope does a brilliant job at it (I still need to read it all though!).

    Regarding “easy love”, it’s true what Universal states; love and lust are mutually exclusive. However, this is based on the clear and theological understanding of what love is, as opposed to the fuzzy definition of the popular culture. Someone may claim to be “in love” with someone, while in fact he or she is simply in a state of infatuation. As the Pope explains, “That love between man and woman which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings, was called eros by the ancient Greeks.” This eros without the element of Agape is a disordered, perverted love – this is called lust.

    So the answer is not either/or, but both. As the Holy Father put it so concisely yet beautifully: “Yet, eros and Agape The more the two, in their different aspects, find a proper unity in the one reality of love, the more the true nature of love in general is realized. Even if eros is at first mainly covetous and ascending, a fascination for the great promise of happiness, in drawing near to the other, it is less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, is concerned more and more with the beloved, bestows itself and wants to “be there for” the other. The element of agape thus enters into this love, for otherwise eros is impoverished and even loses its own nature. On the other hand, man cannot live by oblative, descending love alone. He cannot always give, he must also receive.”

    PA, I agree that loving yourself is an important aspect. I think the difficulty is defining what “love” we mean here – English can be quite misleading in this sense. Although, I would say that knowing God and therefore the nature of reality is a prerequisite for love of any kind, even that of oneself. How can we love ourselves, if we were ontologically abominable (as we would be if God was not good)? We can love ourselves because existence itself is a good – it is a gift from God. We can love ourselves because we possess intellect and will which are aspects of the soul that reflects our transcendant quality of being made in the image of God. We can love ourselves because the one that holds us in existence is goodness itself. Despite our moral failings (which are many and constant), we are ontologically lovable.

    The thing I keep discovering over and over again is that, by the virtue of being “Catholic” – meaning, “according to the whole” – truth is rarely either/or, but both or something else altogether transcendant. This doesn’t mean that the law of non-contradiction is ignored (a common mistake made by the let’s-all-be-inclusive-and-happy people), but because we are created to seek the truth and goodness, we almost inevitably latch onto some aspects of the truth (even though we may mix it with falsehoods). It’s true that we often must love ourselves first before we can love God (as PA says), but that is because we have not realised who God is unless we could love ourselves in a healthy way (as Universal hinted).

    Hope that made sense. It’s already tomorrow and the bed beckons.

    God bless!

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