You Can Be An Overcomer
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.
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
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.
What can we learn from James this morning? How can we learn to handle challenges
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!