“You armed me with strength for battle . . .” – Psalm 18:39
According to my airline pilot friends the periodic flight simulator training and testing they are required to undergo has less to do with the basics of normal takeoffs, landings, and flying their particular aircraft, and much more to do with responding to adverse situations. Most experienced professional pilots can practically fly a plane blindfolded. But what they must practice over and over is how to react when things go awry, of which there are endless possibilities. More than anything else, and thankfully so, it is this preparedness that limits the number of mishaps to the small percentage it is.
Likewise, there are a lot of excellent golfers around, but only an elite few become PGA winners. The difference between the amateurs and pros is not that the pros necessarily hit the ball longer and straighter and sink more putts, nor do the pros do a better job of avoiding trees and sand traps. What the pros do better, thus setting them apart from the amateurs, is recovering from the tree hazards and sand traps – dealing with the adversity they encounter. Same is true for football, baseball, soccer, basketball, or any other team sport. Certainly the teams who play the best and make the fewest mistakes will have the advantage, but odds are the winners will also be determined by the teams who scramble out of tight situations most effectively.
In my youth I had dreams of a perfect life, perhaps you did too – perfect job, perfect home, perfect family, perfect everything. But life doesn’t work that way, does it? “In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus reminds us (John 16:33). Adversity is inevitable.
For those of us who live in Texas, as well as many other parts of the U.S., we have certainly experienced our share of adversity this past week from what has been an unprecedented and devastating winter storm. (Need I mention the extraordinary adversity over the past year?) But what separates an abundant life from a tragic one is neither the absence of adversity nor the severity of it. Rather, as with the difference between professionals and amateurs, it is how we deal with it when it occurs. It has to do with “being armed . . . with strength for the battle,” as the Psalmist says, the source of which comes from leaning on the One who arms us with that very strength.