I'm not sure how well the contemporary evangelical world prepares us for this struggle, which I suspect many evangelicals experience but fear to admit because of the expectations we create. At such times, we can turn for strength to older and richer theological traditions probably unfamiliar to many—writings by saints who endured agonies both physical and spiritual.Colson saw in these older traditions the truth that faith becomes strongest when we are without consolation and must walk into the darkness, as he learned, with complete abandon:
Teresa of Avila was a 16th-century Spanish mystic and author of The Interior Castle. Teresa, who suffered from paralyzing illnesses, wrote, "For his Majesty can do nothing greater for us than grant us a life which is an imitation of that lived by his beloved Son. I feel certain, therefore, that these favors [sufferings] are given us to strengthen our weakness."
John of the Cross, persecuted and thrown into prison, wrote the classic The Dark Night of the Soul. "O you souls who wish to go on with so much safety and consolation," John wrote. "If you knew how pleasing to God is suffering and how much it helps in acquiring other good things, you would never seek consolation in anything, but you would rather look upon it as a great happiness to bear the Cross of the Lord."
Faith isn't really faith if we can always rely on the still, small voice of God cheering us on. A prominent pastor once told me he experienced the Holy Spirit's presence every oment. Contemporary evangelicals regard this as maturity. Perhaps it is -- or maybe it is a form of presumption. True faith trusts even when every outward reality tells us there is no reason to....[Source: Chuck Coleson with Anne Morse, "My Soul's Dark Night," Christianity Today.Com, December, 2005 (Hat tip to Fagan)]
Evangelicals must rely on more than cheerful tunes, easy answers, and happy smiles. We must dig deeply into the church's treasures to find what it is like to worship God, not because of our circumstances, but in spite of them.