From Desolation to Consolation


“The biblical pictures of the new creation suggest the absence of virtually all relationship-limiting factors … we might gain the capacity to communicate and relate intimately with billions of others all at once – and agree perfectly with each one … Our present dimensionality makes such simultaneous communication and fellowship impossible. But with one extra dimension of time or its equivalent, we could acquire this capacity.” – Hugh Ross in Beyond the Cosmos

Throughout the years in my journey with God, I have gone through cycles. There are times when I feel the nearness and presence of God … where His reality is not a question. And then there are other times when He seems silent and distant.

Ignatius coined the terms “consolation” and “desolation” to describe these conditions and they have been used in the currency of spiritual formation and direction for centuries to describe such spiritual states.

During the latter, my normal MO is usually to endure and push on trusting in that what I have affirmed in the past is true although not something I am existentially experiencing. It is usually a matter of time before God will graciously pull me out of such a slump and allow me to reconnect.

Nevertheless, those “down” times can be difficult and characterized by questions and a plethora of doubts … doubts about God, the reality of the spiritual realm, life after death, God’s sovereignty, his manifest presence and power and other “ultimate” questions.

I know I am not unique in this. But sometimes it is not real easy to admit. To question whether we’ve been sold a bill of goods and are giving our lives to fairy tales doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in those who may depend upon one for leadership, or more disconcertingly, support us financially.

The last time I came out of one of those “down” stages – which was aggravated by watching some people die some rather ugly deaths and my wife’s serious health challenges – God interestingly used two books to reconnect me with who I know to be true. Both were re-reads but are powerful apologetics for the reality of God and His presence in our lives: The Creator and the Cosmos and Beyond the Cosmos, both by Hugh Ross.

These two volumes did much to re-ignite my confidence in the veracity of historic Christianity, the reality of God, and the trustworthiness of the Bible. They were a shot in the arm to my devotional life and have given new meaning to prayer. They include some of the most accurate, encouraging perspectives on the reality of the supernatural and the eventuality of “heaven” of any writings I’ve recently come across.

I know Hugh Ross won’t appeal to everyone. But God has used his writings in my life so I can recommend that others take a look.

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