In the beginning, sweetness abounds, flowing steadily like a river untouched by debris. Excitement and joy flood all the senses and there is an eagerness to deny oneself, lay down ones life, and lose hours in prayer and study. But we are people of highs and lows, or as told in The Screwtape Letters, “troughs and peaks.”
It is inevitable that all who embark on a spiritual journey will encounter a dryness in which they no longer feel God’s presence or feel like following through with their religious duties/studies. God allows this to happen as a part of His plan for us to be “one with Him, but yet ourselves.”
If we merely experienced God’s presence and love with no dryness, then we wouldn’t have the very best gift he has given us: free will. He is irresistible. Therefore, he has to withdraw from our conscious experience so that we may choose him for ourselves.
It is during the troughs that we benefit most. It is true for anything in life. Your work and relationships experience these low moments, but to be successful you push through anyway. And the reward is even sweeter having had to persevere.
Having knowledge of all these things is our greatest edge. If we know who God is and that He is always with us then we can persevere with confidence. “To carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish” is how we deepen our faith and grow in virtue. We may walk in confidence, that even when we feel we have been forsaken, he is very close to us and he is pleased even with our stumblings.
Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.The Screwtape Letters
It would do one well to remember that in times of struggle God is not far. Even when you find your struggle un-heroic and instead of trust in God you are swallowed up in doubts.
Remember, He is very close and you gain more in your struggle to trust than in your perfection, so long as you keep trying, in each small, broken effort to conform to his will.
And when you can’t feel with your senses a deep love and trust, you must remember it with your intellect.