Faith that Sees in the Dark

“There is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither hope nor love without faith.”—St. Augustine, Enchiridion, 8

Father Walter Ciszek, S.J., spent twenty-three tortuous years in various prisons under the old Soviet regime in Russia. After a year of intense interrogation, he signed a false affidavit admitting to crimes that he had not committed. The weakness in himself that this act revealed, both to himself and to his Soviet interrogator, precipitated a real crisis in Ciszek’s soul. Cast into darkness and eventually into real despair, he experienced what he flatly calls a conversion when he finally called upon God’s grace and found the strength to give up all the calculations he had entered into with his captors to avoid further torture and death, and to cast himself entirely upon God.

That essential act of faith, that final surrender of every pretension to self-sufficiency, is critical to sanctity, to hope, and to love in full. The book of Hebrews defines faith as the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (11:1) which means, in short, that faith is the power to see in the dark. Things always seem darkest when our own resources have failed entirely and we have no place to go but the throne of grace.

While St. Paul says of the theological virtues that the greatest is love—and, of course, it is on the basis of love that we will be judged—the full measure of love can only be given when we make the total gift of self to God that only the ultimate test of faith makes possible. As Ciszek realized, it is when we find love cold and hope failing that faith is pushed to the limit. It is only when that limit is actually crossed, and we finally fall into the arms of God, that we find all we had hoped for and sought in love.

Action Step

Is there some area of your life right now that you have been reluctant to place in God’s hands, determined to handle yourself, in your own way? What might you do this week to place your life—and the lives of your family—more fully into the hands of God?

About the Author

Dr. Sean Innerst

Dr. Sean Innerst is a member of the Theology Department at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary; associate professor of Theology and Catechetics at the Augustine Institute; and author of Pillars: A Journey Through the Catechism.

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  • James T Pereira

    Frankly, I don’t really know to place things in God’s hands. Do I tell Him to help because I can’t progress any further on my own and then sit back and watch, or do I also continue with my efforts to see if it will yield results?

  • Hermit

    learning to wait on God is the most difficult thing we must do. Think about a child. They must wait on their parents. We are God’s children, and He expects us to wait on Him. Place all in His hands and you will be surprised as you will see with the eyes of your soul, hear with the ears of your soul. God makes it very clear when one is just beginning on the spiritual path.

  • Victor Mathern

    Yes, the question of what is Gods will and what is my will, I am a self starter, lack patience, and then I don’t know if God wanted me to do such and such……first it seemed like He did then later when things get difficult I wonder…… Especially if it concerns another person………

  • BeverlyAnn

    There were times when I did just that. After doing every last thing I could do, I was spiritually and mentally exhausted and I just prayed” God, you know what I (we) need. I have no more words. It’s
    in your hands”. I received the patience to wait and peace of mind knowing I did all I could do.
    Some things must just run their course but we get the courage to get through it. And we can offer up our distress for the remission of past sins or for the souls in purgatory.

  • BeverlyAnn

    I must say that at times when I have exhausted my prayerful-self praying for someone else’s needs, I have come to the realize that it is I whom He expects to be His Hands on earth.

  • BeverlyAnn

    Sometimes. just like any other parent, God says no.And like any parents, He has His own reasons.

  • Dianne

    I am having a difficult time right know in my life. My daughter and step-daughter don’t like who I am dating. They both lost their father about 2 1/2 years ago and they are not ready for me to date. How do I ask for Gods help in this?

  • Nancy

    This question (in the “Action Step”) really hit a mark with me at this moment and prompts me to worry less.
    Everything is in God’s hands, and in His control. If, and when, He wants me to act on something He will let me know, clearly. Until then I must patiently wait, resting in Him, allowing His plan for mankind to unfold…in His will.

  • Marianne

    “Lord give me patience, and give it to me now!”
    Sometimes it seems to take FOREVER for the Lord to answer our prayers. And as a society we are bombarded to always seek “instant gratification”. However, if we can just hang in there, we will usually find that we can put that time of waiting to good use. God is always trying to teach us something.

    It IS really hard to surrender our wills to God. However, I think 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 sums it up: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

    If we pray constantly, it becomes easier to wait patiently and be able to discern God’s will for our lives.

  • Marcus

    I think the first step is being focussed on Christ. This involves allowing Him Lordship over everything: money, time, sexuality, relationships,etc.
    Once these are all surrendered to Him, then we follow the commandments and trust that He will send the Holy Spirit to help us discern the right way of acting.
    So yes, we do the work but in doing this work, the whole thing is turned over to Jesus such that which ever way it turns out, we are at peace because we know that this is His will. The results are no longer what we determine they should be but rather the results that God wants. Sometimes, the results are not what we would have liked but if we are truly surrendered, then we will remain at peace despite things going wrong and NOT according to OUR plan.

  • Patti Raithel

    My father has been gone for 8 yrs. and my mom has started dating a man 2 yrs. ago. Being an adult , it is still hard to see my mom with someone else. Always put your kids first right now , you won’t regret it.

  • Christian 12 Steps

    Thank you. Many times in my older days have I thanked God that my mom never remarried!

  • Marianne

    PS! As I finished praying this morning, reveling in the extra half hour I have before I start work today
    (short day – “only” 8 hours), reluctantly ending my session of worship, prayer and study, I thought “just one more paragraph”. I randomly opened a book and my eyes were drawn to a single phrase… the
    last verse of the Scripture quoted above… 1 Thes 5:18! I love these seeming “coincidences”! I had already thanked Jesus for being Lord over every area of my life; I thanked Him for hearing my prayers. So I immediately began to thank God for this time of waiting. I know that in some way it is a time of preparation.

    Have a blessed day, all. Keep rejoicing and keep praying. And “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

  • Christian 12 Steps

    After many years of trying therapy, secular meditation, self help books, and listening to one spiritual guru after another, I then tried Jesus Christ, and ever since 1981 I have never been dissapointed, never had to see or listen to anyone other than believers in Him for any truth or help I have needed in my life. Jesus Christ said; “He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life”, He has been faithful and is all I need in this life and in eternity.
    I believe all the problems of mankind are the direct result of either being “separated” or out of “fellowship” with God. Both the Old and New Testament testify to this truth.