Overcoming obstacles – part 3

This week’s blog post continues the series about overcoming obstacles.

There are times when obstacles should be a cause for rejoicing rather than being a cause for fear and discouragement.

The obstacles might be a way for God to show His power in a greater way. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, they faced a major obstacle in Pharaoh. No matter what God did, sending plague after plague, from frogs to boils to hail and thunder, Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go. The Bible gives the reason for this in Exodus 7:3, where God says that “I will make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn so I can multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt.” We can rejoice when we face obstacles because we can have confidence in a God who empowers us to conquer our difficulties and who uses our victories to glorify His name.

Another reason why we might face obstacles is that God wants to use those obstacles to build your character. Obstacles can provide wonderful opportunities to grow. When you face a test, it forces you to develop your problem-solving skills, as well as cultivates patience, perseverance and endurance. In James 1, it is written – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James writes that obstacles can be a method by which God develops good character qualities in us, so when you face an obstacle, instead of getting bitter, get better!

Obstacles require us to develop patience and perseverance because a lot of times victory is something which can only be achieved in the long run. When faced with obstacles, we can either give up or have faith that God can help us overcome our obstacles. We’ve talked about how obstacles can work for our good, but this outcome can only come through endurance and hindsight. It’s only be going through the trial, trusting in God for the long run, that we can look back and see how God has delivered us from our obstacles. The truth that we are more than overcomers in Christ  is something that can only be learnt in the long run, when we have grown old enough to be able to look back at our lives and see the bigger picture. If you don’t give up on God, you can be sure in the long run He will deliver you and you will experience extraordinary victories.

Overcoming obstacles, Part 2 – a testimony

Today’s post is a personal testimony grappling with last week’s post about overcoming obstacles. If you haven’t read the post yet, you may want to check it out at http://hweehweetan.com/overcoming-obstacles/

Last week, I had just finished writing the post and I was pretty proud and satisfied with myself. I thought I had written one of my best and most inspiring post so far. I geared myself up to post the blog entry onto my website.

Then trouble struck.

I couldn’t log onto my blog.

I kept entering my password for about an hour, but to no avail, as the screen just stayed frozen and refused to let me log onto the administrator for my website.

I sent an anxious message to my website designer, Andrew, to ask him to help me fix the problem.

A few hours later, Andrew got back to me and asked if I had done anything unusual with the site as he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the log-in. It was an unusual problem since the website was up, the only problem was that I couldn’t log in. I told him that the only thing I did to the site recently was to post an entry last Wednesday. I asked him how long it would take to fix my site. He said he was unable to give me a timeline as he wasn’t sure what was causing the problem.

I started to get really worried about my site. My mind was racing around, thinking of all sorts of negative scenarios. Would I have to create another new site if I couldn’t access my old site? Would this new replacement site cost me a lot of money?

I was totally distracted during the afternoon. I would try to log in to the site every fifteen minutes, but to no avail.

But my real struggle was a spiritual one.

I had to keep my focus on what I shared in the blog post I wrote about “overcoming obstacles”. I had to believe that even though this problem I was facing seemed out to harm me, God could use it for my good, use it to promote me. I had to believe that God promised me victory in the end, that He woud empower me to overcome this obstacle of my blog breaking down. I had to learn to have faith and stay in peace.

I tried to stay in peace about my blog break-down but still felt myself getting really stressed. I cried out to God – “I feel overwhelmed. Lord, you know I’m weak, you know I’m trying to stay in peace but I’m having problems being calm. Lord, please help me to have faith in you and be in your peace!” I made myself cast my burden on the Lord, trusting that he would fix my blog problems.

What struck me was that what I wrote in my blog about overcoming obstacles was good theory, but when I faced a significant obstacle in reality, my theories were thoroughly put to the test. One thing that struck me was how unpleasant the experience was. When disaster strikes, the natural reaction is fear and discouragement. These emotions had a physical effect and both my mind and body were in turmoil. But God is faithful. By putting my trust in Him, I was able to reduce the amount of stress I was feeling. The stress didn’t go away all at once, but it was a constant battle to overcome the stress. Every time I felt a stress attack coming, I would remind myself that God will work good in my situation, that I’m a victor and not a victim, and then I would feel his peace gradually soothing my stress. I had to cling to God constantly to not let the worry overwhelm me.

I went to bed that night constantly turning my thoughts to God, focusing on His power and His goodness. I knew God had a purpose for my blog breaking down, it was a test to help me practice what I had written about in theory on my blog post last week. It was to show in reality that what I’d written in theory was true. I reminded myself that I might not now be able to see why this problem was occurring but looking back many years later, God will show me how the problem was part of His plan.

I fell asleep resting in God’s faithful arms.

When I awoke, I checked my phone and saw a message from Andrew. He wrote to me saying he had fixed my website. I saw the time stamp – it was 1.30 am. I was so grateful that he had worked so hard to help me fix my site, I was indeed blessed to have such a friend. Andrew explained to me in an email that basically some of the widgets in my site had gone rogue and was preventing me from logging me. There were many widgets on my site so it took him a long time before he could figure out which widgets were the ones that were causing the problem. I sent an email to Andrew thanking him profusely for his help.

Looking back, I am grateful that my blog did break down, because it helped me practice what I have been preaching on my blog. It showed that God is faithful, that when we face problems, if we turn to Him, He will deliver us. I was also struck by his mercy. I was filled with anxiety, I was weak, yet God was compassionate and comforted me with His peace.

Also on hindsight, the blog breaking down was a relatively minor problem. It wasn’t like I lost my job or got a report from the doctor saying I had cancer. But the good thing about God fixing my blog was that it showed me He was faithful in taking care of me in the small things. And this has strengthened my faith, because seeing God be faithful in the small things has given me courage to trust Him for bigger victories.

Praise God for His amazing grace!

Overcoming obstacles

Today, we’ll talk about important aspects of dealing with the storms in life.

We all face obstacles and opposition in life. When that happens, it’s easy to get fearful and discouraged. But understanding the insights I’m going share below will help you maintain a positive attitude and conquer your difficulties.

As Christians, we are told to follow God’s will. In Romans 12:2, we are told that God’s will is “good, acceptable and perfect”. Since God’s will is good, it may seem logical that if you follow God’s will, only good things will happen to you. In Deuteronomy 28, God lists out many blessings that will follow the believer if he is obedient to Him – “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today…you will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country”.

But if you look at the lives of the great heroes of faith in the Bible, you’ll find that they faced many obstacles when they decided to follow God’s will and heed His call. These might be external obstacles like enemies or internal obstacles like fear and feelings of inadequacy.

What we have to realise is that just because things go wrong doesn’t mean that God wasn’t guiding us. God uses both open doors and closed doors to guide us. He uses both our allies and our enemies to fulfill His perfect plan.

Life often turns out different from what we expect. But just because we failed, face problems, encounter suffering, end a relationship, lose a job, encounter disappointment doesn’t mean that God wasn’t guiding us and we weren’t following His will.

Romans 8:28 says, “For God works all things for the good of those who love Him.” That’s all things – both good and bad. So in life, even as we follow God’s will, we can expect to encounter obstacles, set-backs, enemies and heartaches. But we know that we will have the final victory, as God works these negative circumstances for our good.

God will use our obstacles to promote us. He will use our enemies to show forth his power.

Take Joseph for example. His destiny was to become the Prince of Egypt, the next most powerful man after Egypt’s ruler, Pharoah. However, his path to victory was strewn with setbacks and enemies. Some of his enemies include his brothers, who, jealous of Joseph, sold him into slavery. But God used this disaster to propel Joseph to his destiny. If his brothers hadn’t sold him into slavery, then he wouldn’t have ended up in Egypt, where he ultimately became a high-ranking official. Though his brothers meant to harm him by selling him into slavery, God used Joseph’s slavery to bless him, as God made him prosper in his owner Potiphar’s household. But then disaster struck again. When Joseph obeyed God by refusing to sleep with Potiphar’s wife even as she tried to seduce him, Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of rape. Joseph ended up in prison. Joseph could have gotten upset. He could have gotten angry with God, despaired and give up hope. But Joseph put his faith in God, and God used his stay in prison as a way to get Joseph in Pharoah’s court. When his fellow prisoners needed someone to interpret their dreams, they went to Joseph and Joseph successfully interpreted their dream. This led to Joseph’s big break – when Pharoah needed his dream interpreted, his official recommended Joseph. If Joseph hadn’t been in jail, he would have never ended up being summoned to help Pharoah.

From Joseph’s story, we can see how set-backs can become stepping stones. We can see how God not only uses our friends to help us, he uses our enemies as well. Joseph faced some enormous difficulties, but God used every obstacle to propel him to ultimate victory.

When you realise this truth – that God uses our obstacles to bless us, it takes all the pressure off. When something bad happens, your attitude is – “it’s no big deal”. You realise the set-back is all part of God’s plan and everything is working for your good. When bad things happen, don’t get bogged down by self-pity. Shake the dust off your feet and move forward with your life.

Like Joseph, your setbacks are not going to work against you but for you. God can use what was meant for your harm to help you. However, you have to do your part and stay in faith. Trust that God can use your problems to promote you. Keep a good attitude and refuse to give in to self-pity, fear and discouragement. God has good in store for your future!

What happens when you believe in the God of miracles?

Did you know that if you really believed in the God of miracles, it would change your life?

If you read through the Bible, it is filled with stories of God performing miracles, of believers encountering God’s supernatural power in their lives.

In the Old Testament, God empowered David to overcome the giant Goliath with just one small stone. He parted the Red Sea, led the Israelites through dry land and drowned Pharoah’s army. God enabled Sarah to give birth to Isaac even when she was ninety years old. The same God who made this supernatural childbirth possible also closed the mouths of lions when Daniel was  thrown into the pit with those fierce creatures.

In the Gospels, we again see ample evidence of the God of miracles through the works of Jesus, God’s son. Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, walked on water and fed 5000 people with five loaves and two fishes.

God is the God of miracles. He specializes in doing the impossible in our lives. He loves us and wants to do great things for us and shower us with amazing blessings.

However, we are hindered in receiving these blessings from God because we do not realize that he is the God of miracles. Our picture of God is too limited, too small. We are content with living an ordinary, mediocre life. When we realize that God can do miracles in our lives, we will shake off our complacency and enlarge our vision. Our goals will change – we will start to dream and take active steps to pursue our dreams. We will expect God to achieve the impossible in our lives.

In Luke 1, when Mary is told that as a virgin, she would give birth to a Saviour, she was baffled as how that could happen. But the angel told her that the miracle could happen because “nothing is impossible for God”. When we realize that we serve a God of miracles, we will start to live a life that has no limits. We will have a vision of our lives where we can do anything and be fearless when faced with challenges. We believe that God can help us overcome anything. With this attitude, our lives will be transformed and we will encounter God’s abundant blessings.

God is a God of miracles, but he can’t work those miracles without our co-operation. In order for you to see God work his power in your life, you need to have faith. This means that you need to have faith in God to achieve your impossible dreams. You need to have faith that God will help you overcome your seemingly insurmountable problems.

When we face difficulties, we are not discouraged or fearful. We know that God has put these obstacles in our lives to enable Him to show forth his power. He loves us and wants to show us that love by doing extraordinary things in our lives.

God will make a way when there seems to be no way.

Your problems may seem impossible to overcome. Don’t get discouraged. Miracles is what God specializes in. Just stay in faith and you will overcome your obstacles, be rescued from your difficulties and achieve your dreams.