The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 3:

Confidence in God

Although we have said that mistrust of oneself is very necessary in this battle, nevertheless, if that were all we had, we could count on only two outcomes. Either (1) we would take flight, or (2) our enemies would defeat us and we should remain conquered. Thus, in addition to this you still need total confidence in God: hoping in him alone, and expecting whatever benefit, help and victory from him alone. For inasmuch as we, who are nothing, ought to mistrust everything of our own, and so may not promise ourselves anything other than a fall: so we will surely attain every great victory thanks to our Lord as long as in the pursuit of his love we arm our heart with a strong confidence in him. And we can likewise attain this in four ways.

First: Ask it of God.

Second: With the eye of faith, consider and observe God's omnipotence and infinite wisdom. For God, nothing is impossible, nor is anything even difficult. As his goodness is without measure, God is ready and prepared, at every time and every moment, to give with unspeakable love all that we need for the spiritual life and complete victory over self, if we but throw ourselves with confidence into his arms.

Consider: For thirty-three years our divine Shepherd ran after the lost sheep, with such loud cries that he became raucous. He walked such an exhausting and thorny road as to pour out all his blood and give us his life. Now that this sheep follows him, obeying his commands or at times desiring to obey when failing to do so -- now that this sheep prays and cries out, is it possible he would not turn his life-giving eyes to her? Is it possible he would not hear her, not place her on his divine shoulders? Is it possible he would not celebrate a feast with his neighbors and with the angels of heaven? For if our Lord with great care and love does not cease to seek and to find the blind and the mute sinner, is it possible he would abandon the one who cries and calls to her Shepherd as a lost sheep? God knocks constantly at the human heart, out of desire to enter and dine there, bestowing his gifts: who would ever believe that God himself would pretend to be in fact deaf, and would not desire to enter the heart of whomever should open the door and invite him? (Apocalypse 3.20)

The third way to acquire this holy confidence is to recall the truth of sacred Scripture, which in many places shows clearly that the one who trusts in God never remains confused.

The fourth way which will help attain confidence in God, as well as mistrust of self, is this: when you have something to do and you need to take up some battle and conquer yourself, before you propose anything or make any resolution to do it, turn in your thoughts to your weakness. Then, distrusting yourself completely, turn yourself towards the divine strength, wisdom and goodness. Trusting in these, resolve to work and fight generously. But -- as I will say below -- fight and work with these weapons in hand, and with prayer. For even if it seems that you do everything from confidence in God, you will find yourself greatly deceived if you do not observe this order. Indeed, presumption in oneself is very subtle and very natural to man, so that it almost always remains, hidden in the mistrust we believe to have in ourselves and in the confidence that we believe to have in God.

In order to flee presumption as much as possible and to work with mistrust of oneself and confidence in God, act in such a way that the consideration of your weakness precedes your consideration of the omnipotence of God, and that both should precede your deeds.

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