When God Delays to Answer: CHAOS vs ORDER (Part 3)

When God Delays to Answer (Paulo Coelho, Ronald Rolheiser) - CHAOS vs ORDER

In our second blog on our search for the one called God, we finished with the prospect that we can find God within us, in the good around us and others.  In the process of preparing for the third blog of this 3-part series, I revisited some of my own earlier works (see John, 2010).   Which led to the idea for today’s post was laid some nine years ago.  

When doing so, I was pleasantly surprised with reading up on a personal journey as recommended by Fr Ronald Rolheiser, a Canadian Oblate of Mary Immaculate, on what spirituality is and what prevents us from living a deeper spiritual life. 

Conversation with Ronald Rolheiser: On Affective Prayer
A longing for God

In his book – prepared on the lines of reflective chapters.  Fr Ronald Rolheiser takes a deep dive into making you think on the subject – that suggests that each of us has this deep, driving desire, this longing for more. That there is an energy, a life force that is mostly experienced as desire or longing.  We feel restless, and we seem compelled out of ourselves toward something more.

He quotes St Augustine of Hippo (4th-5th Centuries) in support of this: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you” adding that Augustine was to discover – and become aware – that he desperately needed some deeper direction and so the spiritual quest became the driving motivation of his life.   He also found that at the root of his restlessness was a longing for God. 

Who is St Augustine of Hippo
Healthy spirituality

Fr Ronald Rolheiser talks about a healthy spirituality that keeps us energised.  A spirituality that keeps us glued together.  In other words, a healthy spirituality fills us zest and hope; it allows us to experience the beauty of life and that it’s worth living.  A healthy spirituality that works against cynicism, despair and bitterness that can paralyse us.  A spirituality that is also integrative; which gives us a sense of coherence and order, on who we are, our direction in life and how life is full of meaning.

A balancing act: CHAOS vs ORDER

Fr Ronald Rolheiser recommends that the task at hand in healthy spirituality is to balance the two sometimes-conflicting dynamics of ORDER and CHAOS: the creative, chaotic momentum that energises us which must be balanced with the ordered, disciplined dynamic of our life.  Too much chaos and you die of dissipation; too much order and you die of suffocation.  A healthy spirituality, therefore, is the balance between the two, the way we channel that deep, raging fire that is at the core of our lives. The treasure that awaits us?

The treasure that awaits us?

In reflecting on Rolheiser’s provided text, coincidentally reminded me of the works of Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian best selling author whom I had introduced to you in my last post.

To refresh myself of Coelho writings, I searched Coelho up on the internet. 

In doing so I re-discovered an excerpt from his most famous bestseller, “The Alchemist”, which seems to follow on the same lines of the text by Fr Ronald Rolheiser.  I am always intrigued by this kind of story-telling approach to inspiring people.  This extract from his book the alchemist were the shepherd boy, and the alchemist are having a conversation between them on the way to the pyramids – is typical of Coelho style: 

“….the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself” said the alchemist.  “And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second encounter with God and with eternity.” (Coelho, The alchemist, 2017)

“Every second of the search is an encounter with God,” the boy told his heart. (Coelho, The alchemist, 2017)

“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him” his heart said. “We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them.  We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them – the path of their destinies, and to happiness.  Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out indeed to be a threatening place.  So, we, their hearts, speak more and more softly.  We never stop speaking out, but we begin to hope that our words won’t heard: we don’t want people to suffer because they don’t follow their hearts.” (Coelho, The alchemist, 2017)

Paulo Coelho / The Alchemist

Lessons From The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Failing to see the good

Still milling over the exciting and stimulating concepts in Rolheiser’s thoughts and how they somehow are reflected in Coelho’s too, I am now seeing more and more how that they are running on a parallel dynamic with Coelho’s mixture of spirituality and storytelling.  Which can be seen as critical passages such as the following:

“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognise the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” (Rolheiser, 1998)

“I’m like everyone else  – I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen, and not what actually does.” (Rolheiser, 1998)

“Every search begins with beginner’s luck.  And every search ends with the victor being severely tested.” (Rolheiser, 1998)

Fr Ronald Rolheiser / Seeking Spirituality

And the one that really tied it all up for me:

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” (Rolheiser, 1998)

Fr Ronald Rolheiser / Seeking Spirituality

When God delays answering

When God delays answering our prayers in the way we would like them or how we would like Him to answer them – when we would like them answered, He has an excellent reason for it. We usually consider this as failure, but all too often it is otherwise. 

Everything God does or allows to happen on our behalf he has a perfect reason for it. Through all the rat-maze of spiritual confusion and frustration life can hand us.  We must always try to hold on to one simple fact: God is only good, and whatever He allows to happen in our lives and on this planet is working ultimately for His good – the good of the church, the Body of Christ, (The Bride of Jesus Christ), and to the benefit of all creation, ultimately.

As Paulo Coelho says:

“In order to arrive you must follow the signs. God inscribed on the world the part that each one must follow. |It is just a matter of reading the inscription He wrote for You!” (Coelho, 2009)

Paulo Coelho / The Fifth Mountian

What are your thoughts?  Comment below.

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Coelho, P. (2009). The fifth mountain. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Coelho, P. (2017). The alchemist. London: HarperCollins Publishers.

John, P. (2010, November 21). CHAOS vs ORDER. Retrieved from Cappuccino – A sideways view on life: https://john169.blogspot.com/2010/11/

Rolheiser, R. (1998). Seeking spirituality. United Kingdom: Hodder & Stoughton.

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