Author, The Blessing of Adversity
62nd Chaplain of the U.S. Senate (since 2003)
Commissioned in 1976 as chaplain in the U.S. Navy
Served almost 30 years in Navy
Alumnus of Oakwood College, Andrews University, North Carolina Cetnral University, Eastern Baptist Seminary, Salve University and U.S. International University
Has Masters Degress in divinity, counseling, and management and Doctorates in ministry and psychology
Marred to Brenda; they have three sons
Barry C. Black: God's Purpose in Troubling Times
The 700 Club
FROM ADVERSITY TO BLESSING As the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, Chaplain Barry Black is a spiritual leader to the Senate lawmakers, their families, their staffs, and other people who work on the Senate side – about 6,000 people.
Chaplain Black performs traditional pastoral duties, offers one-on-one counseling, and leads weekly Bible studies. His mother, Pearline, loved God and taught him life lessons. When she got baptized, she was pregnant with him. God told her she needed to do something for her unborn child. She kept praying for him throughout his life and kept telling him that God created him for something special.
Pearline worked hard to give him a Christian education and instilled in him early a love for the scriptures. He was raised in poor, inner-city public housing in Baltimore, Maryland where crime and drugs were rampant. Chaplain Black’s father was a long distance truck driver and was rarely home. His mother was the spiritual leader of the home. When his father was home he drank excessively and rarely spoke. Later, he spent months in jail for not making court-ordered child support payments. Chaplain says his father felt like a stranger for most of his life. Chaplain and his siblings would pray that their father would stop drinking and become a responsible parent. (Eventually his father did come to the Lord.)
Despite these challenges, God gave Chaplain Black a love for learning, a gift of memorization, and good public-speaking skills. He had good relationships with his siblings and good mentors. He accepted the Lord when he was 10 and can’t remember a time when he didn’t want to preach. He loved the library and church, reading and worshipping God. These kept him out of trouble and on the right path.
Chaplain Black continued these disciplines through his academic and military careers. He is thankful for his problems. Without problems, he wouldn’t have discovered God’s infinite capacity to make a way when there is no way and to do exceedingly abundantly above all that he could ask or imagine.
CELEBRATE YOUR TROUBLES Chaplain Black says that most people see adversity and trouble as something negative and try to avoid it whenever possible. However, if we learn to meet our troubles with joy, our adversity can turn to our advantage and God’s purposes will be found in our lives.
This guidance is given by the apostle James: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)
Chaplain Black says a critical thing with adversity is to celebrate troubles. King David understood this when he wrote, “It is good for me that I was afflicted” (Psalm 119:71, ESV). Joseph also learned this when he told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20 NIV).
In Romans 8:28 it says … In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. God can empower you to find blessings in your troubles. Also if we can praise God through adversity we bring honor to Him.
HOW TO HANDLE ADVERSITY As a nation, we are facing huge troubles, but we need to recognize how brief our troubles are compared to the light of eternity. Life is not just what we experience in this life. Like Jesus told Martha when her brother Lazarus died, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die…”
The apostle Paul learned to see his afflictions as light compared to Christ’s (Colossians 1:24). What Paul went through was nothing compared to what Christ went through. Paul was happy to continue in fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. We as Christians should be grateful that we fellowship with Christ’s sufferings. We should accept the inevitability of trouble and know that we have a choice in how we respond to adversity.
One thing to do in a time of adversity is to guard your tongue. There is a harvest in the words you speak and you can forfeit God’s blessings by what you say. As it says in Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (NIV).” Chaplain Black also says where you can, avoid sources of trouble and adversity, especially in cases where we bring adversity on ourselves.
We need to deal with temptations and worries. It is not good to worry because it doesn’t accomplish anything, it doesn’t do any good, it is the opposite of trusting God, and it puts your focus on the wrong thing. In I Samuel 17, David didn’t worry with Goliath. God has a desired destination for all of us, as it says in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Many Christian leaders don’t talk much about the “silence of God,” or the times when God seems silent, especially during the times when we need to hear from Him the most. God is listening even when He doesn’t speak. Some examples from the Bible are Moses and the burning bush and Joseph’s time from the pit to the palace. God was working all the time even though there seemed to be no answer.
THOUGHTS ON PRAYER Prayer is one of the most underestimated weapons we have as Christians and we need to use prayer a lot more.
God wants us to pray more as it says in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
If we would harness the power of prayer a lot would happen. We should keep in mind that it is a privilege to talk to the God of the universe and prayer helps keep us from despair. In Luke 18 Jesus tells the story of the justice-seeking widow who would not give up until she received what she asked for. In the same way He told the disciples that’s how they should pray. Prayer gets us ready for a move of God in our lives.
Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” Chaplain’s life experiences reflect that truth. Prayer has enabled him to remain calm in situations that cause uneasiness. It has helped him trust God when He can’t trace him and helped him resist Satan’s traps. He’s seen prayer heal the sick and help people out of depression. One of his life’s greatest challenges was dealing with the untimely death of his mother. She died at age 59 of illness. He and others anointed her with oil and prayed for her as it says to in the book of James.
Chaplain fully expected her to recover, but she died. It forced him to grapple with complex issues. God didn’t give up on him and provided a way out. Shortly after his mother’s death a lady gave him an audio tape of his mother’s last public prayer. At this point, his mother didn’t know about her illness and she was fine. In her prayer, she spoke of death and resurrection. As Chaplain tearfully listened to the tape, he felt that God was speaking directly to him through her and his struggle ended.
PRAY FERVENTLY FOR OUR LEADERS We’ve reached a point where we don’t pray for our leaders. But in the Bible, we must respect those who are placed in authority as it says in Romans 13:1: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Chaplain Black says we need to pray for the following things for our leaders: wisdom (James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God,”); favor (Dan.1:9 “Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel,”), and presence of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13 “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!")
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