4 Ways You Can Overcome Life's Obstacles
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NIV)
Ecclesiastes 3 is famous for the teaching on seasons. The world seems to be in a season of crises right now. There is not one country that has not been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic; There are wars, and rumours of war; chaotic weather patterns that are literally turning countries upside down and towns that were once filled with life, are left underwater or are covered in ash as floods and fires leave desolation and destruction in its wake.
You may not live in a country directly affected by the adverse weather, but in our own lives, our own life’s seasons come and go like the ebb and flow of the ocean waves.
We live in an awesome expectation of the day Jesus will come down and take us all home and there will be no more tears or sadness, but until then, many of us are facing very real life-issues on a daily basis.
God has prepared us in so many ways that this life will have its own set of challenges and the scripture above pretty much guarantees us that a life in Christ will not always be smooth sailing. And while God has warned us to be vigilant of tribulation, He has also given us the tools and resources to overcome them.
Here are 4 things we can do when a crisis hits close to home.
1. Build your faith = Time in the Word
Spending time in the word should be a daily habit in the life of a child of God. I know it’s not always easy and I’m the first to admit that there are many days I struggle to stay on track. Juggling kids, school, work, business and running a household, amongst a long list of other commitments is no easy task. But you will set yourself up for success when you prioritise God’s word first. And God promises it in Joshua 1:7-9.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9 (NIV)
There is no time when you hit a wall to go and find scriptures to stand on. These should already be embedded in your soul (Your mind, your will, emotions and intellect) so that you can call on it when you need it. It’s what you will declare when satan thinks he has the upper-hand, but in actual fact does not.
Reading the word, and hearing the word, is how you build your faith (Romans 10:17) - this is how you will start ‘seeing’ with your spiritual eyes what God sees in the spirit, before you see it manifest in the physical. Believing that God has supplied your need (whatever it is - financial, healing, friendships, peace, strength, joy, etc) before you even experience it.
By spending time in the word and declaring God’s word back to him in faith is how you will train your ‘innermost knower’ to know that God exists and He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
2. You have Power over Thoughts‘..casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,’ 2 Corinthian 10: 5 (NKJV)
Most of our life-battles start and often are also played out in our minds. A recent (2020) study by psychologists from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario suggested that the average human has approximately 6200 thoughts per day. That’s a significant number if you ask me and I’m sure the no. 1 thought going through your mind right now is: ‘No wonder I’m so tired!’ :-)
The question we should be asking is - How many of these thoughts line up with the word of God, and how many thoughts are in opposition?
Reading or watching the news, checking in on social media or that gossiping friend definitely does not help the situation at all. We are bombarded by news that can bring on fear, depressing and anxious thoughts in a matter of a headline.
2 Corinthians 10:5 is one that I have memorised and repeated more often than any other scripture in the bible. Why? Because I realised from an early age that if I don’t control my mind, my mind will control me. It's a scripture I confess almost daily because daily there are thoughts that are not aligned with the promises God has spoken over me. I will not stand for it and I certainly will not accept it.
Speaking 2 Corinthians 10:5 out loud, and bringing your thoughts into submission to Christ Jesus has a way of instantly banishing that thought and it grabs its friends fear and anxiety to go with it.
You have the wisdom (the Holy Spirit) and the knowledge (the Word) both of which is your power. What you do with it, is the question.
3. Prayer and Thanksgiving
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
‘Be strong and courageous’; ‘Do not be anxious about anything’; ‘Do not worry’; and ‘Do not fear’ are themes repeated throughout the bible. I love that God brings it together so beautifully in Philippians when He ties it together with prayer and thanksgiving.
Fear and Faith are on opposite ends of the spectrum. There is no sliver of thread fine enough to tie them together in any way, shape or form. There is no place for fear in the realm of Prayer because Faith dominates in this kingdom.
When you come to God, it has to be in Faith.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
This scripture is so awesome - in particular if you have never prayed to God before - because if you are calling out to God in prayer - you have to at some level believe that He exists and therefore you are coming to Him in faith. Faith pleases God. And you wouldn't be asking, if you didn't think He would hear you and ultimately respond - which to anyone in need is a reward within itself.
God is all about relationships and prayer is just a term we use to communicate with Him. But prayer is more than just rambling off a few things and leaving the room. Prayer is also waiting and listening.
‘And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.’ John 14: 16-17 (NIV)
God has not left us orphans, alone and vulnerable. No, He has given us His Spirit, The Spirit of truth (Holy Spirit), who is in us and who will be with us forever. God is a rewarder and always has what is best for us in mind. There are so many promises which you can stand on and declare out loud over yourself and your family. He has given you all the tools and resources you need.
‘I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.’ Psalm 55:6
How beautiful and wow, after reading that, I just took a deep breath in and let it out slowly. What a relief. Sometimes we need to just breathe, and let it all out.
I’ve said this so many times before, but Psalm 23 is most probably one of my favourite scriptures ever. When I need to calm my mind and find God’s peace, I go to Psalm 23. When I feel like my mind is overactive, overwhelmed and that it's just not working the way I need it to - I quote: He RESTORES my soul ( and that is everything - my mind, will, emotions and my intellect) and that He leads me beside still waters and MAKES me to lie down in green pastures. God wants you to rest, more than you want to. All you need to do is close your eyes and see it.
Here is an exercise that I often do to help me relax and put my mind at ease when things seem a bit much. Why not try this at home.
That exercise is really to bring you physical rest and resting your mind. But Resting in God is actually not passive at all. It’s applying your faith and relying on God’s ability to come through for you, but more so trusting in His Faithfulness, that He has done it before, and He will do it again.
So spend time in the word, speak it and take thoughts captive. Then pray and rest in His faithfulness. Always remember: God is good and His mercy endures forever. Amen.