Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In the face of difficulty... YOU CAN OVERCOME!

All of us have situations which have profoundly shaped the course of our lives, whether we admit it or not. In observing how people weather the storms of life, I’ve seen that people have 1 of 3 different reactions to difficulty:
  1. Define - They let the difficulty define them
  2. Deny – Pretend it didn’t happen and push aside the impact
  3. Overcome – Address the situation head on with the knowledge of the grace of God
I want to walk through these reactions, to help you evaluate your own responses to situations which you have experienced.


Those who chose to allow their difficulty to define them, chose to live under the shadow of what happened to them. By living in the shadow of tragedy, they are unable to embrace the restoration which can be found in Christ. Many times those who chose this approach may not be doing it overtly, but negative thought patterns will sneak in and keep us from living free of that hurt.

"If X didn't happen, I would be happy"
"I can't do X because of what happened to me"
"If they knew X, they wouldn't want me serve anyway"
"I'm not worthy of this because of X"

To shift mindset, it's important to realize that every negative situation provides an positive opportunity for growth. One of my favorite verses is from Romans:

"...We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us" - Romans 5:3-5a

If you can wrap your mind around the fact that our sufferings produce character in us, it helps you get past the hurdle of being defined by your tragedy. I would much rather be defined by the character, perseverance and hope that is built up in me through difficulty. One of my personal redirects in difficulty is to take a step back from the situation and thank God for the investment he's making in my character. It's as if my heart is getting an Extreme Makeover - Heart Edition when God allows me to walk through difficulty.


Those who deny tend to remove themselves emotionally from the difficulty. They seem to disengage and become an observer in the situation and not a participant. At times the brain may be processing, but the heart is left behind. I think this happens more with men, as we've built an image of masculinity equivalent to toughness.

Denial may seem like an adequate coping mechanism to "get through it", but doesn't give any opportunity for us to grow through the situation. Denial promotes self-reliance instead of God reliance during the situation.

Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. - Ecclesiastes 4:12

In order to get through difficulty it's important to reach out to God and your support network to work through the tragedy. Your friends, family and others in your life are there for good times and bad. By denying the situation and not working through it, you may be cheating others who would grow from the situation out of their own opportunity for growth. There have been many times that I've watched someone else struggle through a situation and be restored, only to be confronted with a similar struggle later in my life. The fact that I walked through it with someone else gave me hope and encouragement.


The ultimate example of working through tragedy are those who have overcome. When I think of people who have overcome tragedy, they become spiritual superheros in the lives of others. Is observing someone has overcome, they are able to share that encouragement with others in a way that only they can. Paul was grateful for this when he addressed the Corinthian church:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Cor 1:3-4

There is nothing more joyous than seeing a difficult time of your life encourage others as they walk the journey God has allowed them to walk through. Each and every one of us has a unique imprint to leave on the lives of others but we can only leave the divine imprint intended if we have renewed our mind with the Word of God and can view our situation from His perspective.

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. - Romans 8:6

If you've realized that you aren't handling your own tragedies well, there are some key steps to take to become an overcomer.

Commit to Prayer
First of all, relinquish control of the situation and ask God to open your eyes to where you need to grow. Commit to prayer on the situation and ask God align your heart to his. If there is another person involved that has caused the hurt, pray for that person. This was very transformational for me in getting through a big situation in my own life. God can soften your heart as you pray for that person who caused your pain or conversely who you have caused pain.

Seek A Support Network
Make sure you don't walk this road alone. As mentioned in Ecclesiastes 4:12, a cord of 3 strands cannot be easily broken. You, a trusted friend and the holy spirit are a fantastic team to work through issues and grow stronger. To work through some tragedies, professional help may be needed. There is nothing to be ashamed of if this is the case. Keep in mind that the goal is to be an overcomer so you can live a life of freedom and help others along the way!