The Chaplain's Notebook

Chaplain’s Notebook

Apart from my duties as a chaplain for LASD, I also serve as a hospital chaplain. There, I frequently see patients and their families dealing with tough times — often the toughest of their lives. Good times do not last. Hard times are inevitable. This is Job’s famous lament: “Where is God in tough times?”

Some of us seem to have had a greater share of hardship than others. I say “seem” because all of us have experienced bad things or have challenges to face, but it is how we respond to those challenges that matters.

Can we ever truly know what another person is going through? We cannot accurately compare ourselves to others. Yet, some folks do seem more resilient. In my experience, those of religious faith often have more strength, more calm and more peace. Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor at Auschwitz who endured unimaginable suffering, put it this way in his book Man’s Search for Meaning: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

We may even welcome tough times. For instance, how could you become the effective, professional deputy you are without the demanding and continuous training that often pushes your physical and mental limits? Once we overcome real obstacles, we find ourselves stronger, smarter, better equipped and fitter to take on ever-greater challenges. We thank God for strength and endurance. Well-earned accomplishments make us feel rightfully proud.

In this light, as televangelist Joel Osteen notes, “Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.” These words helped me, personally and magically, when I walked through the valley of the shadow of death years ago. They have guided me ever since.

Unfortunately, too many of us test our luck. For whatever reason, some folks create their own hardships that eventually could harm themselves, their families and their careers. Drugs? Excessive drinking? An affair? Is the short-term excitement worth a lifetime of regret?

My prayer is that each of you may find peace with your own god. Step on the brakes as needed. Allow yourself time to slow down, time to be quiet, time to reflect and time to, well, just let yourself be. As for myself, I find this in prayer, no matter how brief and simple. Perhaps even just a “Dear God, I want to take a moment, not to ask you for anything, but to thank you for all I have.” Rain or shine, I find God’s presence always there.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified … for the Lord your God goes with you, He will never leave you nor forsake you” — Deuteronomy 31:6

Tough times always come, and always go. Are you prepared for winter in good times? Again, as Frankl teaches us, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how.’”

How can I contact a chaplain? Chaplains are available at their units of assignment, or by calling the Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) at (213) 738-3500.