Have you ever met someone who seems to just sail through life? They have an ideal life with no struggles or cares. Don’t they make you feel jealous, insecure, miserable, defeated, and defective? It seems like you always hit a pothole or roadblock in life, and they never even hit a bump. Even when you get through a tough time, it seems like there’s another just around the corner. It’s not fair! How can their life be so easy, and my life be a daily struggle? Why are there obstacles in my life and not in theirs? What did I do to deserve this life of struggle? Chances are, those folks have experienced obstacles in life but have found successful ways to overcome them, and so can you.
Before we go further, allow me to share a life truth I have learned, life is not fair!
Nowhere in the Bible are we promised a life without struggle. Quite the contrary. Jesus Himself told us to expect it. Take a moment to read John 15:18-16:28. It’s a lengthy passage but imperative for our understanding of dealing with obstacles in our lives. I’ll wait while you read.
Jesus, talking to His disciples, tells them He is sending them out into the world (into everyday life), and here’s what they can expect:
REJECTION AND DIFFICULTIES!
It’s not going to be easy. But here’s why He is telling them this. First, so that they will be prepared. The most damaging obstacles in life are the unexpected ones. He tells them to expect these difficulties so they will not be derailed by them. Knowing they are coming will help the disciples be prepared. Secondly, He tells them there is a greater reality than they can imagine. “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Did you catch that? There are trials, sorrows (obstacles) in life, but take heart; they can be overcome because Jesus overcomes the world! The Overcomer lives in and through us if we will trust in and let Him! We have a Helper in the process of overcoming. Don’t miss this very important truth. Believers have a helper as we deal with life’s obstacles!
Now that’s a great motivational speech! I’m excited and encouraged but don’t have a clue about practically handling those obstacles. Thanks a lot, but where’s the substance? Here are some practical tips to begin to overcome obstacles.
TIP 1: The first step is to recognize and admit you have a problem.
When someone in Alcoholics Anonymous gets up to “share,” they begin with, “Hi, my name is ________, I’m an alcoholic.” It’s a recognition that there is a problem/obstacle in their life. One will never be able to overcome the obstacle until they “own” it. What if I’m this way because of something that has happened to me or something someone has done to me? A question to explore in the recovery process, but not the most important for now. Admitting you have a problem or an obstacle in your life is the first step and a significant one. You cannot change what has happened to you, but you can change how you respond to it. Really, the only thing we can change in life is ourselves, our behavior, our way of thinking, our way of reacting and responding, our way of dealing with the obstacle. Owning the obstacle sets the stage for overcoming it.
TIP 2: The next step is to choose how we will respond to the obstacle.
I like to use this analogy. You can either let it continue to be a stumbling block, keeping you from making progress, or make it a steppingstone into a new future. What has happened may not be your choice, but how you respond to it will be. Set a goal to help turn this obstacle into a steppingstone. Change the way you view the obstacle and how you allow it to shape your life.
TIP 3: Another important step is to admit what you have done in the past hasn’t worked (or else you would have already overcome the obstacle or problem).
Working harder at the same thing won’t make it successful if it doesn’t work. Here is the perfect time to ask for help. Perhaps it is a trusted friend who has overcome something similar? There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking a pastor or professional counselor. They have training and can help you begin the path to overcome the obstacle. Some obstacles require professional help.
TIP 4: What’s next? Listen to the things we tell ourselves and evaluate the image we have of ourselves.
If you continue to tell yourself that you are a loser and deserve the difficulty you are facing, you will most likely never overcome it. Are we sinful, broken people? Absolutely! No matter how hard you try, you will make mistakes. That’s the nature of the fallen state in which we currently live. But there is great news! God loves you so much that even if you were the only person to live in all of eternity, He would still have let Jesus die on the cross to pay the price for your brokenness and to restore His relationship with you. He still wants to help you develop into the wonderful person He intends. Begin to tell yourself this truth and to see your value through God’s eyes.
Perhaps the obstacle you are facing is the result of something someone has done to or not done for you. You are trapped in the situation because of the hate and hurt you have for someone. Jesus gave us a model prayer. Many of us know it well, but we miss the next verses found in Matthew’s Gospel. “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15). Notice being forgiven is dependent on forgiving. Also, feeling forgiven is dependent on forgiving. Here’s an important truth, the person who has wronged you does not need to ask for forgiveness for you to forgive them. Forgiving them frees you from the bondage of hurt and allows you to begin overcoming the obstacle.
TIP 5: Finally, have realistic expectations.
It is likely the obstacle has been a part of your life for some time and will not be removed instantly, but you can begin the process of overcoming it and the freedom that it brings. Progress will likely be slow at first. Most obstacles took some time to develop and will take some time to overcome. Don’t give up and settle for the old life. Keep on working on the new you.
Overcoming the obstacles in your life is a process, one that never begins until you take positive steps to begin changing. The process will likely be painful but will ultimately result in removing the hurt and pain of the obstacle in your life.
One positive step you can take in the process toward overcoming is consistently staying in God’s word. Courage For Life has created a free audio Bible that you can download and listen to any time. Learn more and download the app here: https://courageforlife.org/app/