The Chaplain's Notebook


It is no secret that challenges are part of everyone’s everyday life. The Bible teaches that God uses circumstance to develop our character. “But we also glory in tribulations,” Scripture says, “knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Tribulations are “a state of great trouble or suffering,” according to Webster’s Dictionary).

We respond, “OK. Fine. But why can’t God mold our character in some easier and less painful way?” When times are tough, our instinct leads us to pursue comfort or freedom from difficulty. We may be facing fear, negativity, health or financial issues, a troubled past, or even anxiety about the state of the world we live in. But many successful people insist that challenges paved their road to success.

Successful people are optimists. To the optimist, challenges do not appear as roadblocks, but as opportunities for learning instead. Overcoming them leads to confidence and victory. How can we tackle our everyday struggles of life? St. Francis of Assisi once gave this great advice: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Scripture tells the story of a man named David. At a young age, he found himself in combat against a giant of a man named Goliath. So many lessons can be learned from this story: David ran straight at Goliath who, even as an accomplished battle-worn soldier, found no opportunity or flexibility to use his spear or shield. In a flash, David reached for his sling, loaded it and unleashed his deadly stone at Goliath. When the dust cleared, only David was standing. He treated the giant as if he did not exist, as if he were invisible, as if the fight was not even with him. Interestingly, the Old Testament says that David gathered five stones. He only needed one, so why five? In case he missed? In fact, we learn Goliath had five brothers. David was preparing for their assault as well. David knew there would be more enemies, but with God, he had nothing to fear.

Remember, we all battle “giants” in our lives. Not giant people, but what may seem like giant problems. Here again Scripture tells us “if God be for you, who can be against you?” I would like to leave you with a few things to ponder:

1. David did not flinch, but was determined. Can you be determined today to learn from your challenges?
2. David prayed before battle. Prayer (even if brief) is a great way to bring peace and clarity to the mind.
3. David did not strive for perfection. He strove to be the best version of himself. He did what he was able to do. He did what he knew he could do. He could not handle armor or a heavy sword, but he could handle a sling. Be satisfied when you have done your best. David did what was necessary and ended up doing the impossible.
4. Live one day at a time (Matthew 6:34).

Bless you today as you sacrifice your time, take on your own challenges and seek to make our world a better place.

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