What do you do when the world or circumstances around you seem hopeless, when it doesn’t seem like anything you do will make things better?
There once was a young man studying to be a priest who felt called by God to go to Russia to serve the people there, despite the fact that there were strict laws against preaching or teaching religion in the country at that time. Worse, by the time he in fact made it to Russia in 1939, war had broken out. In a short time, he was imprisoned and forced to serve five years in solitary confinement and then another 15 years of hard labor in a prison camp in Siberia. The very people he wanted to share the Gospel with were the ones most afraid to even be seen with him, let alone listen to him, for fear of being punished themselves. For 20 years, he was isolated, scorned and thwarted from doing what he knew he was called to do, with no escape in sight.
How do you deal deal with that, of feeling that you’re far from being able to do what you were supposed to accomplish in this life? Fr. Ciszek chose to make “a morning offering of all the prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of the day and… to respond lovingly to all the situations of the day as truly sent by God.” He reasoned, “Each of us has no need to wonder about what God’s will most be for us; his will for us is clearly revealed in every situation of every day, if only we could learn to view all things as he sees them and sends them to us.” (He Leadeth Me: An Extraordinary Testament of Faith, Walter J. Ciszek, S.J., p. 40,)
In short. Fr. Ciszek saw every person and experience in his day as God’s will for his life instead of seeing them as an impediment to some greater form of God’s will to take place. His reasoning challenged me. Isn’t it better to fight against that which is wrong than choosing to embrace it and lovingly respond to it? When we pray, “Thy will be done…” isn’t it up to us to make His will happen?
There is no shortage of injustice to fight against in the world today. Yet certainly it pales in comparison to what this one man was up against imprisoned for two decades by one of the most murderous regimes in history. He could not have known it when he was going through it, but Fr. Ciszek left behind a powerful pathway for us to follow, of seeing every person and situation in our day as a gift from God and responding to them with His love, mercy and grace instead of our own wants, needs, and desires. This is an opportunity we have every day, not just in our trials but in our most mundane tasks, not just with people we love, but also with those who challenge us. Every situation and conversation is a simple and yet profound opportunity to be a part of not your will, but His, being done, regardless of how trying the circumstances around you may be.