Tiny faith stories: God’s presence in even the most hopeless situations
God can be found in the most challenging of places. When faced with difficulties, we have a choice to listen to him or to go our own way. We asked readers to share stories of surprising moments of faith in no more than 100 words. In these (very) short essays, they explain how they faced these struggles with the help of God. They demonstrate God’s presence in tough situations, even when life seems hopeless.
I lived in solitary confinement in a tiny cell in county jail for nearly 20 months. It was my time of mercy and metanoia. In my cocoon, I began the process of kenosis. I was allowed a Catholic prayer book. Within it, I discovered a prayer to St. Therese, the Little Flower: I prayed the “Glory Be” 24 times in honor of the 24 years of her life. In return she would send a rose. I told her any flower would do. On the last day of the novena, my mother showed up at visitation with an Easter lily.
Thuan Duc Vu
About 20 years ago, in my daily prayers, instead of thanking God for his many blessings, I was complaining about my current situation: I hated my job, my car was 15 years old. I went on and on. Mid rant, I felt the words, “I gave you one of my precious children.” God spoke to my heart, reminding me that, as a single parent, I had adopted my wonderful daughter Mandy five years earlier in China. Properly chastised, I knew that the joy my little daughter had given me far outweighed the challenges I currently faced.
I knew that despite my cross, I had to forgive. I said, “I don’t know how, Lord, but I do forgive him.” From that moment, my anger left. I had been resurrected from death to new life.
Serving others has always been a part of who I am. When I was 25 years old, my pastor in Eau Claire, Wisc., asked if I had ever considered being a permanent deacon. He said I had plenty of time to wrestle with the idea, and wrestle with it I did. My discernment process helped to shape my faith, family life and career—but the time never seemed right to apply. Then, 30 years and thousands of miles later, my pastor in San Jose, Calif., asked if I had ever considered the diaconate. I was ordained in 2018.
Deacon Richard M. Noack
San Jose, Calif.
I wondered if I was the right mom for a gifted child. Schools closed in 2020, giving our son time to soar ahead, but bringing him paralyzing anxiety. I felt called by God to homeschool him for 4th grade. I was terrified, but praying to St. Jude eased my doubts, allowing me to see the beauty in this child God trusted me to raise. I prayed to St. Jude, and we finally had peace of mind. My novena to St. Anthony led us to a school that was opening a fifth grade, and our son now has life-changing support there.
When my husband left me, I was filled with hurt and rage. I joined a 54-day rosary novena. One day, praying the Sorrowful Mysteries, I realized I was living out the passion of Jesus. I was facing an agony I did not want, walking a path toward a huge loss—the death of my marriage. Finally, I came to the last mystery. I knew that despite my cross, I had to forgive. I said, “I don’t know how, Lord, but I do forgive him.” From that moment, my anger left. I had been resurrected from death to new life.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
One day in college I had literally no money for lunch, and I was extremely hungry. I said a prayer asking God to help me find lunch that day.
I had no sooner prayed this prayer than when a car from Jimmy John’s, a sandwich shop, whipped around the corner. A package fell out in the middle of the street ahead of me.
I took the package to a nearby Jimmy John’s. The manager was so grateful! To thank me, he offered to make me a free lunch.
I’ve never forgotten that “freaky fast” delivery of an answer to my prayer!