The Time of Temptation and Distress Is No Time to Make Decisions

It’s Fénelon Friday!

LETTER 27: The Time of Temptation and Distress Is No Time to Make Decisions

The overflowing distresses you are going through right now are like the rivers of water that run through the streets after a sudden storm. The only thing you can do is wait until the waters drain away. This is a time of great confusion for you, and nothing seems to make any sense. You are imagining things which aren’t true at all. But this is the ordinary reaction to great suffering. Even though you have such a keen mind, God is permitting mitting you to be blind to what lies immediately before you, and he is allowing you to think that you see clearly, when actually, you are only having spiritual mirages. Now I know you want to do the will of God and God will certainly be glorified if you are faithful in yielding to His plans; but nothing could be more unwise than the making of important decisions in this time of distress. A state of distress never produces anything which is of God.

So my advice is this: after you have settled down, make your decisions carefully, then begin to carry out the will of God as you see it. I know this time of distress has been hard on you, but begin now to get back to devotion and simplicity and selflessness. You talk with God, and let Him talk with you. Pay no attention to self. When you are in that sort of-relationship with God, then you can go ahead and do whatever is on your heart. I know that a submitted spirit of that sort will not permit you to take a wrong step.

I am sure that you can see how dangerous it is to make decisions when we are in the agonies of distress and under the influence of violent temptations. This is one sure way to go astray. You may ask any experienced counselor you wish, and I am sure he will tell you that you should not make any decisions until you have quieted down. And he will tell you that the easiest way to deceive yourself is to trust your hours of decision making in a time of suffering. At such a time as this, your mind is too unsettled to be trusted.

Now, I know that you think that this decision must be made now or never, and you will no doubt think that I am trying to prevent you from doing what ought to be done. But that is the farthest thing from my mind! As far as this decision is concerned, I do not feel it is my responsibility either to grant you permission or try to hinder you. I only want to give you advice that will keep you in a right relationship with God. And I think it is all too clear that you would be making the wrong decision if you acted simply because self has been wounded and placed on the verge of despair. Is it right to make any decision simply to gratify your self-love, when this is not the will of God? Certainly not! So I strongly advise you to wait until you are in a better condition to accept counsel from the Lord. And the only way we can profit from His Counsel is to maintain a willingness to sacrifice anything for His sake, no matter how much it hurts self.

Francis Fénelon, Let Go (New Kensington, PA: Whittaker House, 1973).




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