Tough times, really ain’t that bad

During training in Louisiana, Capt. Hank Mauterer came across a Soldier who made the most of a tough situation, a lesson that remained with him. Photo courtesy of Capt. Mauterer.

By Capt. Hank Mauterer Battalion Chaplain, 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne)

So there we were … hot in battle, engaging “Geronimo” throughout the Louisiana woodlands as Hurricane Hermine battered the Joint Readiness Training Center. After the rain, we faced languishing periods of sweltering heat and humidity.

All while our notional dead just sat idle, confined to the makeshift mortuary affairs collection point that sat by the woods right off the edge of the road — an unusual sight to see, considering these Soldiers’ roles.

They couldn’t get back into the fight until their units properly processed the right paperwork. Some were stuck, with little to do, for more than nine days.

Idle, they faced rain storms, sunburn, poison ivy, chiggers, ring-worm and dehydration — with no gear to help. They were all miserable. Well, except for one Soldier, a friend of mine named Jason.

Each day, I’d stop by the camp to check on their condition, bring them supplies, and get them medical treatment. I’d always make sure to spend extra time with Jason.

At first, he echoed the camp’s woes of misery. It wasn’t long, however, before I began to notice a polar shift happening with his outlook. He went about camp cheering others up.

Jason developed a new, positive and somewhat contented outlook. When I asked about it, he’d respond, “You know, if this is the worst it gets, it really ain’t that bad.”

What a strong perspective! With that in mind, how are you faring now, as we together weather the trials and frustrations brought upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic?

I have a friend on Panzer Kaserne who’s stuck with his family in an empty house, because his PCS was stopped after his house-hold goods had been shipped. I have another friend on Robinson Barracks, who may be unable to join his wife in the States for the birth of their first child, because his leave has been put on hold. We probably all have friends in the community who were confined to their living quarters for at least 14 days, after being near a COVID-positive person.

Yet, you know what? Many of these families, despite their circumstances, have had a positive attitude, and told me in their own words, “You know, if this is the worst it gets, it really ain’t that bad.”

You see, you and I have a holy God who loves his children dearly, who understands our troubles and can strengthen and encourage us during these difficult times. He can help us to even “consider it all joy … when [we] encounter various trials.” Why is that? Well, for one reason, it’s because we “[know] that the testing of [our] faith produces endurance … that we may [become] perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

It’s like how weightlifters can enjoy the soreness that comes with a good workout, because they know they are gaining greater strength and endurance from it. So, too, can we regard trials in our lives when we realize our faith is consequently developing greater strength and endurance.

God’s “plans [are] to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). God encourages us to instead “set [our] minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).

For as you and I know, it can be all too easy to get flustered when our plans are thrown out the window.

Have you ever noticed how often — even just a couple minutes, hours, or weeks later — we’ve not only forgotten about the situation, but it’s become irrelevant to us?

So, during this crazy and uncertain moment in history, let us instead try to put our trust in God, to be filled with his joy, to roll with the situation before us, and to try to make the most out of this time, because, more than likely, “You know, if this is the worst it gets, it really ain’t that bad.”