Chaplain (Maj.) Gino Hernandez

Living a life with limitations

10/24/19, 12:00 AM

By Chaplain (Maj.) Gino Hernandez, 1st ABCT, 1st AD

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
– President Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln is recognized as one of our nation’s greatest presidents for many reasons, to include his political resolve to keep a divided nation together, the emancipation of slaves, and his personal determination to remain informed of all events during many of the Civil War battles. During these battles, it was not uncommon to find him spending countless hours, even nights, with Union telegraphers receiving updates and issuing orders. As president, he accepted his responsibility over the splintering nation. Yet, for all his attempts to control the chaos, he also recognized his limitations. And these limitations drew him to depend on God in prayer. 

From the perspective of faith, one of the purposes of hardship is to draw us closer to God. Hardships, unlike anything else, remind us of our limitations. Whether these limitations come in the form of a disabling sickness, financial strain from limited resources, or emotional pain from broken relationships or personal trauma, our hardships are meant to draw us to the ONE who has no limitations. 

St. Luke uses the phrase, “for with God nothing shall be impossible.” God has intentionally laced this life with limitations, including death, so that we continuously turn to God in prayer. As the famous 19th century preacher C.H. Spurgeon once wrote, “whether we like it or not, asking is the rule of the kingdom.” In this life, we are meant to turn to God.   

This does not mean, however, that God enjoys our suffering. Rather, God enjoys our communion. In prayer, we can come to God and express our frustrations, anxieties, doubts, pain, and limitations in a way that is meaningful to the creator of the universe. But prayer is not just about expression. Prayer is also about control. Prayer ultimately requires our willingness to recognize our limitations and surrender our control to God. As Emily Griffin once wrote, “to pray means to be willing to be naive.” For this reason, prayer is an extremely difficult proposition. 

As people, handing over control is a daunting challenge. 

Several years ago, when I was working as the Warrior Transition Brigade Chaplain at Walter Reed, I would personally interview each incoming Soldier receiving treatment through our organization. This effort was part of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness process to ensure holistic care for each Soldier. Almost universally, the greatest frustration among our incoming Soldiers was a sense of losing control. None of them expected their illness or injury, but here they were. It took great effort for these Soldiers to relinquish control and accept a lifestyle different than they had anticipated. Yet, their ability to accept their limitations and their new abilities were essential to their success, even their survival. 

Much like those Soldiers, accepting our inabilities, although uncomfortable, places us in a posture to recognize and depend on God’s ability. Through prayer, our limitations are not debilitating, but empowering. Through prayer, we access a source far more capable than we could ever hope to accomplish on our own. Not only does God receive our simple requests, but God invites us to bring our prayers as Saint Paul writes, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” 

In this life, there will always be reminders of our limitations. But, may you and I be encouraged to know that God invites us to bring all of our worries and concerns to Him in prayer. He will make up the difference.

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