Finding Consolation Amid Desolation

Amidst the crises and struggles of everyday life and the issues of the world that get so many people down, many people, whether they know it or not, search for answers. Nobody wants anxiety and depression, and everybody wants peace and happiness. But instead of finding those answers in prayer or an active spiritual life, people are clinging to drugs and supplements to trigger those chemical reactions.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), over 70 million prescriptions for antidepressants were given out in 2018, compared to the 36 million given in 2008. And according to a 2022 survey of college students, 17% of students are on anti-depressants, 8% are on anti-anxiety medication, 6% are on psychostimulants, 4% are on sleep medication, 2% are on mood stabilizers, and 1% are on anti-psychotic medication.

This isn’t to say that medication for mental and emotional health doesn’t help. In many cases, they absolutely can. But based on the data from previous years, something is triggering this explosive rise in mental health issues and the answer to the problem is not to over-prescribe. Too many people are hoping that their happiness fits in a pill bottle. Can’t sleep? Feeling sad? Feeling too hyper or unfocused? Feeling stressed or anxious or worried or guilty? Take a pill.

Timmerie welcomed Father Tim Grumbach onto Trending with Timmerie to talk about the fact that drugs are not always the answer to the feelings of fear and desolation. Oftentimes, those are escapes from the root of the issue, and facing them head-on through prayer, meditation, confession, and confrontation can be the solution that frees us.

Timmerie led the conversation by touching on St. Ignatius of Loyola and his book Spiritual Exercises. In praying through his exercises and rules for discernment, Father Tim pointed out that he distinguishes between two spiritual camps: spiritual consolation and spiritual desolation.

In very basic terms, he likened these ideas to spiritual happiness and spiritual sadness but clarified that they go much deeper than that. And further, the ebb and flow of these two states are rhythmic and universal. There is no person that doesn’t experience both spiritual fruitfulness and spiritual dryness at different times in their life.

“One of his most important rules in fighting the fear that comes with the desolation is knowing that it won’t last forever,” said Father Tim. “That’s a fear that the devil will put into us; a false fear. It will try to convince us that God has abandoned us forever and that our prayer will always be dry.”

But that isn’t the case. Our goal in those times is to persevere and remain by Our Lord’s side. If we take shelter in Him, the storm will pass, and we will be much stronger for it. And when that prayerful fruitfulness returns to our lives, take advantage of it. Grow even stronger in your fortitude and strength so that when the desolation comes again, you are ready.

When we are going through those tough times, we should also remember that God is allowing this. He is permitting us to be subject to this temptation to give in and listen to the devil. But He isn’t doing it so that we fall. He’s doing it because He knows what it takes to withstand the temptation. He knows that you are capable of realizing that through Him all things are possible. In Him, you can and will find the strength to endure the depression, anxiety, dryness, and guilt of whatever’s going on in your life. He’s giving us an opportunity.

Father Tim’s last suggestion for those who are struggling through the dark times in their life was to get in the habit of making an examination of conscience. God’s first question to Adam after he and Eve ate the apple was, “Where are you?” Ask that question to yourself. Where have you succeeded today? Where have you failed? Where did you allow God to enter those situations? Where did you try to do it on your own? Make a resolution to be better tomorrow.

Tune in to Trending with Timmerie weekdays at 6pm CT

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.