Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Learning from David How to Respond to Distressful Moments

David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God.

Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”  -- 1 Samuel 30:6~8

After working for three years in NEC Technologies Philippines, in September 5, 2003 my dream of being sent to Japan for a business trip came true. However, instead of being in high spirit, I was too nervous, more than I aught to be, because just the other day I caught the virus that causes sore eyes. I was worried that a Mactan or Narita airport official or a PAL staff would notice my pinkish right eye and order me to go back home.

But I had one more fear much worse than being sent home – the fear of getting lost. I heard from my colleagues who had one or more Japan business trips under their belt that train stations, most specially the Tokyo Train Station, were like a maze, and one could easily end up on the wrong train platform or board the wrong train. To top it off, not so many Japanese could speak straight English even in Tokyo, and my Nihonggo was quite limited, so asking for direction seemed like scaling Mt. Apo during rainy days.

After some luck, I finally got out of Narita Airport Custom, and on my way to the train station where I would board a train that would take me to Tokyo Train Station. The first thing that I did was to buy ticket for the Narita Express (NEX), but due to inexperience I chose a train that would arrive 10 minutes later thinking that finding the right platform would be a breeze. After all, I wasn’t in Tokyo Train Station yet.

Several minutes later. To my horror, I couldn’t decide the right way. I tried asking for direction a couple of times earlier, but I got ‘lost’ in translation. So there I was standing somewhere inside the Narita Airport Station, countless people rushing around to their destination like guided drones. Both my arms and shoulders ached from its loads – two no-stroller-attached-to-it bags filled with kilos of rice, a number of canned goods, noodles to last a month, and some clothes, plus a big backpack filled with books, goodies and a 2-kilo Compaq laptop clinging from behind.

Three minutes before the arrival of my train, my entire body was overheating. Sweats dripped freely from my face. I didn’t care anymore.

In desperation I approached a young man, probably in his late teens or early twenties, wearing a black business suit. “Doku,” I managed to say while pressing repeatedly my right index finger to my NEX ticket.

“Ah, the platform for the NEX train,” my young Japanese ‘friend’ replied in straight English, to my great delight. “Come, follow me. Hurry!”

I dashed after him like a Pier Quatro porter hauling two sacks of rice on his shoulders…effortless.

Finally, when I got to my train I dropped to the couch like a condemned building whose pillars were shattered by a number of detonated bombs. Some tight middle-aged Japanese men in well-ironed black business suit glanced flittingly at me with amusement. I must have looked a curiosity or a novelty in their perfectly ordered world, but I was so beat up to care.

King David must have looked down at me with amusement too from his perch up in heaven. We shared the same feeling of distress, but I responded in a way that could be funny to him – I relied on my own limited strength, and nearly collapsing as a result.

In time of distress and trouble, David showed us how to respond. First, he looked to his God for the strength to carry him on. By contrast, in that distressful moment, I relied on my own strength to carry me through. I never bothered to call upon God because I was trapped in the belief that if I have to do this right, I have to do it my way.

Second, he trusted God’s wisdom more than his, and asked for His guidance. By contrast, I did not do this either. My first impulse was to look for direction from Japanese. There was nothing wrong with that except that I declared to His face that I didn’t trust Him. Yet He was merciful to me despite my stubbornness; he sent a kind person to guide me.

Knowing David’s greatness as a warrior and a leader, it was easy for him to be carried away by his accomplishments and then rely more on his own strength and knowledge like many very successful people would do. But David was not like most people. And his uncommon approached made him very successful.

As for me, I learned David’s secret much, much later. My only consolation was, it wasn’t too late.

In summary David's formula to fight distress is (1) Find your strength in the Lord (2) Ask for His guidance.

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