Friday, January 20, 2012

The Gospel Imperative of Overcoming Difficulty

“Real life isn’t always going to be perfect or go our way, but the recurring acknowledgement of what is working in our lives can help us not only to survive but surmount our difficulties.”

~Sarah Ban Breathnach (emphasis in original)

There are so many temptations to take a snippet of life and resent that snippet instead of recoiling in an instant from the hurt by choosing to see the dim brightness that presents in any and every situation—even in the darkest.

This has to be the way of countering our difficulties. If we don’t counter these difficulties we remain captive in suspense of circumstances—an ever-present potential that could sweep us away on a floodtide of disenchantment any moment; when things get tough we are good for nobody, lest even ourselves.

Choosing Death Or Life

We call these things pessimism and optimism. The view of life is of a cup half full or one half empty; it’s the same cup; it’s the same circumstance—just viewed differently.

Both have power: seeing our difficulties as challenges besieging us is the power with the potential to destroy our lives and those of our loved ones; seeing our difficulties as challenges presenting as opportunities—actually where we might gain—is a beautiful power that has the actualisation of destiny in view. It is power to change our entire worlds.

And we can have either one. Such is the love of God we have been provided with choice to choose our outlook, to choose our decisions, to choose the direction we run in, and to choose the consequences of many of our decisions.

We cannot blame others for most, if not all, the things that occur to and for us; we are active actors in our lives. And the more we choose to see life this way the more we will see it truthfully—appearing as suggested here as a choice for how we see it.

Death or life, in the living of our lives, is not much of a choice; yet, by default many people choose the former when there is little effort, but genuine foresight, in the latter.

So, What Is Working?

The Sarah Ban Breathnach quote is tantalisingly poignant—we can see what is working in our trials when we choose to sincerely ask the question.

When we see what is working in the midst of what is not, we see what we have to work with; what can be further honed. Our focus is acute and directed properly. We have filtered out all the destructive elements and our vision is forwardly situated.

This is how it works, having asked just one question, sincerely. When we receive the answer there is more work involved—and this is the key: if we meet that foreseen workload with enthusiasm, nothing can beat us. Then all we need to do is string the meeting of all our challenges together this way.

Suddenly we are unbeatable because we have adhered to the Gospel truth—Jesus’ words: “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33b NRSV) When we choose to live in Jesus’ name we side with the fact that the power behind difficulty has been conquered, so we now have the capacity for plain perspective—that light may be seen in the darkness; that any difficulty is surmountable.

No persecution (read difficulty or trial) will push us down unless we allow it to.


And so what is this secret of life? It is choosing how we see it. When we know difficulties are part of life (and we know they are), yet we take courage despite them, we are positioned for strength and opportunity, not weakness and threat.

© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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