This week I have pondered a never ending stream of questions, related to the future health of the Chaplain’s Branch, in particular how to recruit and retain more chaplains. That working group stimulated lots of questions but not nearly as many answers, resulting in stress and frustration, particularly as I try to write a report recommending actions! If you had come to me and told me a story like that I would have calmly told you it is time to do a personal inventory and proceeded to ask MORE questions! If you are anything like me your response would be “Thanks for just making it worse!”
Obviously that is not my intention! But, this approach can be justified from the Bible! If you look at the book of Job you will see that Job, the main character has lots of questions about why a heap of bad things happened to him – he lost his wealth, his job, his family and even his health. He was not happy, and all his friends could say was it is all your fault. In fact someone has quoted that there are 288 question marks in this book, most from Job, and when God answers him – he poses 78 of those questions! The fact is, that is my experience as well. I, like Job, desperately want answers but God rarely provides audible answers, there are many occasions where he wants me to be patient, to wait, and in His good time I will grasp His direction even if my questions remain unanswered!
How do you cope with that? How do you maintain a positive attitude and make good decisions if not even God is answering? In order to get some clarity I often encourage people to journal, and in this context here are five hints on what to write about – yes more questions:
- Describe what the issue is, yes it needs to be specific and concrete, the cold hard facts.
- Reflect – ask yourself why is this important, what is the best and the worst that could happen? Is this an ethical issue where there is a clear right and wrong or just a clash of viewpoints?
- Emotions – how do I feel about it – why has it got to me? Is my emotional state clouding the real issue? How is this affecting me? Where do i feel it?
- Actions – what are my options and when do I have to respond? Have I prayed about it? Have I sought help from the right people and got all the facts?
- Meaning – how will this decision impact my future? Have I kept things in their proper perspective?
In my experience, God does not answer my questions with a voice from heaven accompanied by thunder and lightening, he clarifies my thinking as I struggle to get it down on paper in my journal… as I DREAM…
Hope that helps…
Chaplain Ian S Whitley