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You Can Be An Overcomer
Frank Schaefer

PowerPoint Presentation
 

Scripture: James 1:2-4

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
 

Looking at our Bible verse of the day, I totally understand those that say: James goes a little too far. How can you call it a “gift” when bad things happen to you? OK, perhaps you can talk about a “silver lining,” or some “blessing in disguise,” but the challenges and trials we face often turn out to crush us.

On the other hand I think, James is onto something here. I admit, I would not go as far as calling bad things that happen to me “gifts” but I think that James is exaggerating a bit to get us to thinking about those bad things in a different light. He is not the only one. It’s become quite popular, in fact, to cast challenges in a different light. Motivational speaker Ryan Holiday, for instance says, “The Obstacle is the Way.”

Truth is that trials, challenges and losses are not only a natural part of life, they are the reason life is evolving. I think, psychologists would agree that personal growth comes from a successful handling of life crises.

When we encounter obstacles or insurmountable problems, there are at least three possible strategies (which are not all mutually exclusive):

1. accept - stop and lower your goals/expectations
2. adapt - circumstances and change goals
3. attack – work to dismantle the problem.

There is a time for any and all of these responses and we need to pray for wisdom to be able to do the right thing at the right time.

1. Obviously, if I face a terminal disease, strategy number 1, accepting my death, and lowering goals and expectations for my life is appropriate. The main concern here becomes to get your things in order, cross off items from your bucket list and say good bye to your family and friends.

2. Let’s say I get into an accident and am paralyzed from the waist down, that’s obviously going to change my goals and expectations, but I can and should adapt to the new circumstances and pursue different goals and have a new set of expectations of life.

3. Most times, we can fight the obstacles we face, we can chisel away at them until our path ahead is once again cleared, at least until we hit the next obstacle.
Serenity prayer: God give me wisdom to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can and ...to know the difference. Truth is that we often need help, we are often at a loss to come up with the right response in our crises and sometimes we even panic and make bad decisions.

Lessons:
What can we learn from James this morning? How can we learn to handle challenges better?

1. Take a Positive Perspective “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when challenges come” Expect challenges, obstacles, crises, disasters, and learn not to live in fear of them, but to expect them as something that will bring opportunities to grow in faith and character. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Timothy 1:7

2. Trust Your Struggle “You know that under pressure, your faith is forced into the open and shows its true colors” Trust that you have what it takes to tackle and handle the situation. Your faith will prevail! God has created you in God’s image. God knows how to overcome obstacles and so do God’s children. I believe that God used evolution as a creative process to bring about this world, including human beings. Evolutionary speaking, think about the genes that are in you. Only those genes survive that are able to adapt to and/or change the environment. Know that the genes that reside in you have survived and overcome many challenges. You are a survivor, you are an overcomer!

3. Be patient “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.“ Hang in there, don’t just quit without even trying. Trust that your opportunity will come, that you can reach your destiny/goal if you stick it out. If you give up, its done. If you hang in there, you might be surprised what you can accomplish as you may not only reach your goals, but even exceed them!