I Am in Desperate Need - The Warrior's Journey®

I Am in Desperate Need

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

Virginia Guard chaplain support teams support military personnel in Louisiana. Photo by Coast Guard is licensed under CC By 2.0

Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they  are too strong for me.  (Psalm 142:6)

I have learned two key truths about connecting with God. They both pertain to God Himself. First, He desires a relationship with each one of us, but He will not override our free will. He doesn’t force us into a relationship.

Second, though the Lord has the answers and resources for any need we could ever have, we must ask. We have to take the initiative and petition Him for help.

Think about it – it’s difficult to help someone who won’t admit to having needs or who will not ask for help. All too frequently, this describes the situation our nation faces in attempting to help many of our military veterans. Much of the challenge exists because of the ethos within the military. Ethos has its derivation from a Latin word meaning customs. In present day usage, ethos is the spirit that characterizes a particular culture or organization. Given the protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we presently describe our military as having a warrior ethos. This is unquestionably true, but there are pros and cons. Among the cons are several factors that make warriors hesitant to ask for help.

Let me illustrate with a couple of examples. While serving as an infantry company commander in the mid-seventies, I once directed that all E-6 and above personnel in the unit fill out a questionnaire. It was a simple drill that required taking a 3 x 5 card and listing answers to two questions. On one side of the card, I requested that they list their strengths. On the other side, I wanted them to list their weaknesses. I then met with every non-commissioned officer (NCO) and officer to discuss their responses. I vividly recall my discussion with one NCO. He came into my office, handed me his card, and sat quietly until I had reviewed his information. On the side listing strengths, he had written somewhere between ten and fifteen items. I looked them over and agreed that he had many strong areas. When I turned the card over, it was blank. My conversation with him went something like this: “SSG Jones (not his real name), did you forget to list your weaknesses?” SSG Jones: “No, sir. I really don’t think I have any.” I then replied, “Well, I can think of one for a starter. Either you are incredibly arrogant, or you have blind spots that prevent you from being objective about yourself.”

This outstanding NCO looked stunned by my comment, but then began to open up to me. We had an amazing conversation during which he admitted to having a number of areas that needed to improve. We discussed his strengths and weaknesses for a few minutes, and I closed our session by affirming his strengths, performance, and potential. Was SSG Jones simply arrogant about his strengths and blind to his shortcomings? Perhaps a little of each, but more likely he desperately wanted to reflect his understanding of the warrior ethos as he spoke to his commander. In his mind the warrior ethos meant ‘no weakness’. Another reason warriors won’t ask for help relates to perception. Consider Post Traumatic Stress our Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTS/PTSD) – both continue to be tough issues. In many parts of the military, there is a stigma associated with admitting to either or both of these conditions. Since these relate to mental and psychological wounds versus physical wounds, they are viewed as signs of weakness. So how do many warriors deal with this stigma? They simply will not seek help. They fear being thought of as weak, or in some cases they are afraid that seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist automatically labels them as ‘head cases’ who will be processed out of the military. There are additional reasons why warriors will not seek God’s help. Some simply deny having problems at all. Others believe they will be able to handle the situation on

their own. A few believe they have done bad things and God is not interested in helping them. And the list goes on…

Allow me to state it bluntly: no human being has it all together. We all have problems, we all get stressed, and we all need help beyond ourselves.

God is there for you- always. No problem is too big or complex.

David was one of the most incredible people who have ever lived. He was a king, a poet, a musician, and a warrior. He killed the giant, Goliath; nations bowed at his feet; his writings have been read and studied for centuries. But consider the words he wrote in Psalm 142: “Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.”

David wrote the psalm at a time when he was fighting for his life and about to be overtaken by his enemies. His strength and resources couldn’t cut it. He saw his situation for what it really was. He needed divine help.

Think about David and think about your own situation. Was David a warrior? Absolutely- as good as they come. But he realized his limitations as a human being and cried out to God.

Are you a warrior? Certainly- and probably a very good one. But if your circumstances are too much for you to handle alone, why not ask for help? Why not turn to God and cry out to Him? Do you need help with health issues, a job situation, a relationship problem, an overwhelming fear, depression…? Regardless of your need, the Lord can help you. But it’s up to you to ask.

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