Romans 12:3, Hebrews 12:2-3
Carl Belcher encourages us to stop looking inward, but rather look upward, for our resource to face the impossible.
Have you ever faced a challenge that appeared to be so big, that you felt like saying there's no point in me even trying to overcome it?
When we face something that looks that big, hard, and impossible, it's easy to be gripped with fear or disappointment, making us revert to one or more of the following responses:
We draw inward and focus on self
Our thoughts quickly shift from what we are able to do, to what we think we can't do. We begin to doubt our ability to overcome.
Having a healthy self-understanding is really important. In fact Paul says in Romans 12:3 "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you." Paul isn't saying that we should have a low opinion of ourselves, but as The Message version puts it, "The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him." When facing any seemingly impossible challenge, we need to focus less on our abilities and worthiness and more on God's.
We lose perspective and focus on the scale
I remember as a small boy exploring a public cave with my dad. It was great fun crawling through the cavern following the tour guide, until we had to climb a ladder. After climbing a few steps, I remember being paralysed with fear as I looked down at what appeared to me to be the distance of the moon from the earth! The more I became transfixed looking down, the tighter I clung to the ladder unable to move. I remember my dad calmly telling me "Don't worry, stop looking down and look up at me. Keep your eyes on me." As I held his hand, listened to his encouraging voice and kept my eyes on him, before I knew it I found myself at the top and in his arms.
It's ok to recognise that there may be an obstacle in your way, but keep looking upward. As Hebrews 12:2-3 puts it, "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
We forget about God's faithfulness and only focus on the here and now
I love the book of Joshua for many reasons, but one of the things I love about it is that it continues to encourage me to always make a note of, and remember, God's provision and action in my life.
Whenever God did something incredible to help Joshua and his people overcome an impossible challenge, He instructed them to build an altar. That's not because God is an egotistical and needy God, demanding the worship of us, No, it's so that we may always remember that He is able and faithful. We remember the times that He has provided for us, rescued us, restored and blessed us.
I love that fact that after God miraculously stopped the Jordan River allowing the Israelites to cross, he told Joshua to get some of the people to pick up 12 stones from the river bed and build an altar on the river bank. Throughout the years that followed, every time people would pass by that altar, they would remember that those stones came from the very centre of the impossible challenge that God brought them through.
If you are facing a seemingly impossible challenge right now, I want to encourage you to stop looking inward at regrets or weaknesses; don't allow the problem to appear insurmountable, but rather keeping looking upward and remember all that God has done and will continue to do in your life, as you trust in Him.
I'm praying for you to know His overcoming power at work in your life today.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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