The book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, was just released in early September. The book reveals the private thoughts and correspondences that this woman of God had for more than sixty years sharing her “dark night of the soul” with her confessors and superiors. This selfless servant felt called of God to reach out to the least valued and loved in the world. That place was Calcutta, India, a city of nearly five million people. In 2001 the city name, Calcutta, was officially changed to the native pronunciation, Kolkata. It was in this weary, war-torn environment that Mother Teresa pitched her tent in service to God and man.
It is easy to point a critical finger at someone who has struggled with their faith. There is not one single person of faith who, in serving God, has not experienced times of doubt, uncertainty, questioning, and lack of belief. In Christian theology, we believe the world is in a real mess primarily due to sin. As a result, the human race is, tragically, on a collision course with self-destruction. There will be, as the Bible predicts, wars and rumors of wars as this planet we call home careens toward it’s eventual end.
Into the midst of the world’s insanity, God has chosen certain people who are unconditionally committed to him to step into certain environments to serve him by serving others. This is a basic principle of the Christian faith. When Jesus was asked (Matthew 22:34-40) by the religious leaders of his day which was the greatest of the commandments, he said, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (See: The Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4) Then he followed that up with this comparison, “There is another just like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (See: Leviticus 19:18). When Mother Teresa was still a young woman she knew God had called her to love those who are considered the dregs of Indian society, the outcasts that no one wanted around, but no one had a solution as to how to take care of these people who populated the streets of Calcutta.
In the late 1940s Mother Teresa knew the Lord was directing her to bring a loving, caring touch to the disenfranchised people of the city’s most poverty-stricken bergs. They are the lepers of today. No one dared touch them. They are diseased, sick with all sorts of maladies and infirmities, filthy from living on the streets, and abandoned by families simply to die in the midst of squalor. Most of us could not stand such an environment for more than an hour. Mother Teresa spent her entire adult life there helping people die with dignity.
So, let me ask you: If you knew God had called you to spend your entire life serving this refuse of society, do you think there might be times when you’ve had quite enough of bathing the festering wounds of people who could not care for themselves? Is it not possible that while holding in your arms one more emaciated, abandoned baby that you and everyone else knows will die in a matter of hours or days, it might just be more than you can take? Or is it understandable that you might just question man’s inhumanity when there are so many in the world who have so much and these unfortunates have nothing?
Mother Teresa was no Pollyanna! She dealt with the realities of life that you and I not only wouldn’t touch, but we would be more like Jonah, who when called by God to preach to “the great city of Nineveh,” ran the other way. Not me. Lord! You got the wrong guy!
I am just completing a sermon series on I Corinthians. This past Sunday I was in chapter 15, which is called the Great Resurrection Chapter of the Bible. The concluding verse says, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
The special music for Sunday, sung by two of our ladies, was a song written by recording artist, Martina McBride. It’s called, Anyway. I believe the chorus of the song would make Mother Teresa smile.
God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good,
When I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should,
But do it anyway,
I do it anyway.