During the Expect a Challenge Lab, Suzanne and I shared many people who were amazing examples of how we all hope to face challenges: my precious sister Leslie who allowed God to use her challenge to show His grace and love, sweet Henry and his mother Jessie who clung to the hope of Jesus and heaven in the face of a crisis, and Michelle, who chose to praise God on her flute even though she was suffering from immense loss and grief. It is so easy to hear those stories and be moved to tears, and maybe even be inspired to want to face challenges with that much grace. But how did they do it? How did their faith get to that point? What did they do to get past the anger, grief, fear, or frustration?
Though I cannot speak for them, nor do I know the exact details of their faith-walks, I can share a few things I have observed as I watch them and others face challenges . The principles I see are simple, but living them has to be intentional.
1. Remind yourself of Who God IS: the Lover of Your Soul, Protector, Redeemer, All-Sufficient One, God Most High (in control of ALL), the Beginning and End, Shepherd, Companion, Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Creator, Provider, God Who Sees, and Immanuel, God With Us. Reminding yourself of the hugeness of God can often help counteract the hugeness of circumstances.
2. Remind yourself of who you are: God’s Beloved Child, a child of the King, Servant of the Master (Jesus), heir to a Heavenly Inheritance, an Amabassador of Christ, a Representation of the Savior, Holy, Set Apart for Good Works, In the Palm of His Hand. Remembering how precious you are to God can bring comfort and peace.
3. Remind yourself of your purpose: set apart, with a purpose for good works, God has plans for you – for good, hope, and a future, for HIS glory, to bring HIM praise. God has a purpose and plan for you IN THE MIDDLE of this challenge.
4. Intentionally Choose Trust. Trust Him with your future, with your life, with your plans, your hopes and dreams. Trust Him when things appear hopeless and bleak. Trust Him when everyone else fails. Then, ACT OUT that trust in responses (after all, our actions are what really show our beliefs). Live your life based on that trust. At first this can be scary, but the more you truly trust, the easier and more freely that trust comes.
5. Remember Who Has Won!! Jesus said it best: “In this world, you will have troubles, but take heart! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33). The battle is won, victory has come, and nothing can change that. In your challenge, claim God’s victory, and set your mind on how he overcame. He overcame through suffering, forgiving those who hurt him, and living solely for others. In the most unexpected, most marvelous way, He overcame. And you can too.
As you read this, I hope that you will be reminded of the amazing power we have when we choose to follow Jesus. I pray that you will choose Him when all else fails, when life is hard, when no one else does. I pray that you will be grounded in the knowledge of our Savior so that the storms of life cannot move you. I pray that through your challenges, He will shine bright, and that you will be blessed by peace even in the midst of life’s messes.
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