July 12, 2012

Chaplain’s Corner: “Hard Times”

Lt. Greg Woodard
Station Chaplain

In the Christian scriptures, the psalmist writes that the right living person is “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither, who consistently prospers.” But a few psalms later we read: “My bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long? …I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.”

Throughout history, there have been many individuals who have suffered what has been termed a “Dark night of the soul.” The human experience is full of hardships: sickness and accidents; disappointments, strained and broken relationships. Difficulties in life will come and we must not allow them to keep us down.

A clear understanding of the value of these hardships will make it possible to have a positive attitude in the face of struggle. Here are some points for you to consider as you face the troubles that you are either dealing with now or are sure to face in the future: 1) Adversity can both mature us and can bring out the best in us; 2) Suffering and distress can produce perseverance and endurance.

Perseverance is not a passive acceptance of circumstances. Perseverance instead refers to the ability to display steadfastness and constancy in the face of the most formidable difficulty. It is a courageous resolve in the face of suffering. It is continuing on even when times are tough, no matter the circumstances. Hard times can have a purifying quality; they are the arena in which, and the process through which, a trial transforms into a blessing.

Too often, we want to get our difficulties over with quickly. There are times when the best course is to bear up patiently instead of grumbling and complaining. We need to endure, and to continue doing well, understanding that perhaps the trial is meant to refine something in our life.

Marines understand the value of resistance training and they know that the slogan, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” And they know that to keep their edge, they must patiently endure the pain of increased resistance. Though often not enjoyable in the moment, resistance training pays dividends in the long run.

Letting a trial do its perfect work is not easy. If we wish to run the race of life well we need to develop patience. That patience, in turn, will come only through a form of “resistance training,” that consists of doing well in enduring the misfortunes of life.

Our goal should be to turn trials into triumph. Remember that patient endurance of adversity can accomplish much good and spirituality can be a powerful tool in developing the wisdom to help us gain a proper perspective toward our hardships.

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