Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.
 - Roger Crawford
Imagine losing a limb, your dream job, the love of your life, your parent, child, or friend.  Imagine being rejected by the college of your dreams, left standing alone at the altar on your wedding day, or diagnosed with cancer.   Imagine losing your home in a fire, flood, or other natural disaster.  Imagine the grief and loneliness of the empty-Nester when their children leave home.  Imagine your 3-year-old son (or daughter) has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Life throws curve balls; moments when we feel lost, alone, or betrayed.  Big or small, everyone encounters moments of adversity.  Adversity is inevitable; it is how we handle adversity that we learn who we are – and what really matters.
Bethany Hamilton, a gifted surfer, dreamed of being a professional surfer.   In 2003, thirteen year old Bethany was attacked by a 14 foot tiger shark, lost her left arm, 60% of her blood, and nearly lost her life.
Bethany’s world changed forever.  Her days, once filled with surfing, would be filled with re-learning the essentials of life (i.e how to cook, clean, eat, and dress herself, etc).  How would Bethany go on with life? How would she handle adversity?   Would people accept Bethany now that she looked different from everyone else?  What about her dream to be a pro-surfer?  Would she get back in the water?  Would she be able to surf with one arm?  Would Bethany lose hope?
“I don’t need easy – I just need possible! 
If you have faith anything is possible, anything at all” 
- Bethany Hamilton
With an attitude of perseverance, Bethany believed that all things were possible! The youngest of 3, Bethany was back in the water 3 weeks after the shark attack, and was standing on her surf board on her 3rd attempt!  With the support of her doctors, family and friends, she persevered through every obstacle and criticism – until one day she faced her biggest challenge – the largest waves and her fiercest competitor.
Did Bethany finally meet her match?  Did she reach her limits of what was possible? How does a person hang on to her surfboard with one arm, while being pounded by the power of the largest ocean waves? A surfboard snapped in half, the taste of salt water in her lungs, her competition pushed her out of their way.  Bethany felt defeated – and in the moment she lost the hope of ‘possible’.
What comes next may surprise you.
Bethany walked away.  Do you believe it’s a sign of weakness?  On the contrary, taking a step back and looking at the situation from a different perspective – is a sign of strength.   Bethany’s journey took her to Thailand.
In 2005, Bethany used her gift and love for the ocean to help Thailand tsunami victims conquer their fears, by teaching the children how to surf in the waters they feared.  In that moment, she became a beacon for hope to Thailand and the world.  It was through her compassion for others, that Bethany gained a new perspective and love for surfing.  Later that year Bethany took first place in two National events and turned Pro.
For more on this true story, refer to  her movie titled Soul Surfer, and other YouTube links below)



In what ways are you a beacon of hope to others?  How do you help other reach their full potential in times of adversity?


In your journal, reflect on the following:
  1. What was the greatest loss in your life, and how did you respond?
  2. When faced with adversity, how do you respond? Do you run (or hide) from adversity? Do you give up and lose hope?  Do you take a step back, change your perspective, and try again?
  3. If you are facing adversity today, identify all the ways you could take a step back and change your perspective.
  4. What gift(s) do you have that you could share with others facing adversity? (i.e Like feeding the hungry, visiting the lonely in rest homes, knitting baby blankets for new moms, joining a community, etc.)

The Pit

"Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up." - Alfred
Imagine lying at the bottom of a deep hole, the worst hell on earth.  Imagine the pain of a broken back, being hated, humiliated, mocked, disrespected, and left for dead.  Imagine being surrounded by hopelessness and despair. This was Bruce Wayne’s reality, and yet he did not lose hope.
While countless prisoners, in the pit of darkness, were paralyzed by fear, Bruce took a leap of faith and climbed to the light day.  Bruce knew he had only one chance to succeed, to save the city from despair, to be a witness to hope. Bruce understood the meaning of hope.
“…there can be no true despair without hope."  - Bane
What did Bruce see that others could not?  Bruce saw a light in the beautify hearts of the people!   What’s that you say?  It’s only a movie?  Tell that anyone who has overcome illness, injury, addiction, abuse, porn, abortion, being bullied, the loss of a loved one, or any hopeless situation; like Bruce they found hope!  Hope enables us to live in the present moment.  Hope enables us to look beyond our personal pit of darkness, and seek even the smallest flicker of light.   When we find the light in the darkness, we become the light for others.
“The late Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, a prisoner for thirteen years, nine of them spent in solitary confinement, has left us a precious little book”:  Prayers of Hope.  During thirteen years in jail, in a situation of seemingly utter hopelessness, the fact that he could listen and speak to God became for him an increase power of hope, which enabled him, after his release, to become for people all over the world a witness to hope – to that great hope which does not wane even in the nights of solitude”  –  Benedict XVI
Is hopelessness your reality?  Is your heart filled with despair, sadness, hatred, loneliness, or fear?  Are you like Bruce’s blind prison doctor, unable to see the way out of despair?  Do you accept darkness as the only option? What if you had the ‘freedom’ to escape your prison?  Would you take it?


What if you were holding the only candle in the pit of darkness, would you light it?  If you found the way out, would you throw the rope in to the pit to save others?


In your journal, reflect on the following:
  1.  What is your pit of darkness?  Does it hold you captive?
  2.  Do you want to find a way out? What stops you?
  3.  What do you fear?
  4. Are you afraid you will fall/fail?  Bruce fell twice before he succeeded.
  5. Are you afraid you will succeed?  What about success do you fear?
  6. Are you afraid to trust?