Trust in Trying Times: The Courage of Daniel Bennett - Montreat College

Written by Tyler Lee

In a recent Montreat College convocation, President Maurer spoke of The Martian, a fictional tale that demonstrates the magnificence of human endeavor in demanding situations. I’ve seen the film twice now and I read the book over Christmas break and what has struck me time and time again was how one human being can escape so many near-death situations alive and still maintain remain bold and trust that he will be rescued.

In the film, Mark Watney is a fictional astronaut stranded on Mars. His crew thinks he has died. He feels completely abandoned, yet he must persevere in order to survive. Though he faces the distinct possibility of his own death daily, Watney never blames anyone (not his crew, not even NASA). That’s the kind of strength that every man and woman should always strive to have, always facing challenges but never blaming, always struggling but never bringing others down with you.

Dr. Daniel Bennett, Montreat College’s vice president for student services, is this kind of man, the kind of person who trusts in trials, whose foundation is set not upon sand, but on the Rock. On December 12, on the day of Montreat’s December Commencement ceremony, Daniel was on a morning run when he passed out and had a seizure. When he awoke, he was in the Emergency Room.

Dr. Bennett and his family left the four hour hospital visit shocked to discover that he had a golf ball-sized brain tumor in his left parietal lobe, which processes taste, temperature, and touch. He was scheduled to go into surgery a few days later under Dr. Friedman at Duke Medical Center.

His wife Allie Bennett states in an update on their CaringBridge blog, “We covet your prayers. While this is a difficult journey, we know that God is with us every step of the way and have felt comforted by a peace that surpasses all understanding.”

Even when trials surround us and darkness threatens us, the Lord will protect us with His all-encompassing love. Even in the midst of trying times, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and mind and strength and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

In an update prior to the surgery, Daniel said, “With a successful surgery and recovery, it is possible that I could get off of the anti-seizure medicine and return to normal functions (work, able to drive, exercise, right foot/calf issue goes away, etc.) without any long-term side effects. This is what we’re praying for.”

The surgery occurred on January 8. The very next day, Dr. Bennett was released from the hospital and went home for an extended period of recovery.

Life may not always work out the way we want it to, but when we trust in God’s provision, God will provide in ways one would never even imagine. Though the circumstances seemed terrifying, Dr. Bennett trusted in the Lord, had a successful surgery by one of the best surgeons in the United States, and was able to go home quickly. However, for the Bennett family, God offered something even more healing, a foundation in which to hope in the midst of the shifting waters of life.

Daniel Bennett’s journey ultimately reflects Mark Watney’s final ascent in the MAV toward the end of the film. After everything Watney has experienced, he has one final journey to take. In order for him to reach the point of orbit where his crew will rescue him, he has to achieve a velocity that will allow his crew to intercept him. However, to do this, he has to remove not only everything from the inside of the MAV, but take off both the roof and the side of it, with only a giant tarp draping over the mechanism.

How can one trust when all that’s keeping one from the unknown is a tarp?

We all have situations like this (except maybe not quite as dramatic), times we think we’ll never make it out of, circumstances we never think we’ll survive. However, in our most trying times, we need to trust God, the one who holds all things in his hands, and He will give us both rest and the boldness to endure. In Psalm 18:2 David cries, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Don’t listen to the false voices who question God’s ways; instead, lay your questions and uncertainties at His feet.

In the end, how can the creator of everything, the one true unshakable stronghold on this Earth do anything wrong? Though sin reigns so often in this world, His is the victory and nothing happens outside of Him. In reality, the Lord’s protective hand is infinitely more strong and durable than a tarp. One needs only close their eyes and trust in the ascent through the unknown.

Please continue to pray that Daniel and his family will find both rest and trust in the grace of Christ during this recovery process. To receive further updates on Daniel’s recovery, visit