Challenges in life can be overwhelming at times. Especially when they seem sudden or undeserved. They should come as no surprise to us as Jesus told us in John 16 that “in this world you will have trouble”, but that doesn’t mean they’re not hard.
However, I know looking back I have seen how challenges in my life were actually good things when we see them for what they ARE.
1. Challenges Are Reminders We Are NOT perfect.
I enjoy seasons of life where things are going well. There are people in the world who thrive on drama and stress in their lives…I’m not one of them. I enjoy smooth sailing and joy too much to change that. However, I do see when things are going good in my life I can think of myself as smelling rosier that I really do. Challenges are great reminders to me that I’m not perfect and have not arrived at the pinnacle human existence. There is always work that can be done.
2. Challenges Are Opportunities To Learn.
I learn the best when I’m teaching. Whether studying for a test or playing sports I need to be doing the thing I’m trying to learn in order to understand it. The same is true in my spiritual life. Challenges give me the opportunity to “do” my faith. To put into action all the things I’ve listened to, read about, and pondered about God. Beyond just the spiritual, challenges are the “put your money where your mouth is” moments where we see what we are really made of. Without challenges all we ever do is practice and never play in the game.
3. Challenges Are Openings To New Possibilities
If we never identified challenges around us we would still be walking everywhere, using the bathroom outside, and Facebook would be non-existent. Crazy, I know. Challenges cause new synapsis to form in our brains as we think differently than before. Challenges break engrained habits and force us to do things in new ways. Challenges open up uncreated doors to walk through and into a life we never knew existed. God gives us challenges to see possibilities of new ways, Godly ways that are around us all the time.
4. Challenges Are Able To Give Strength To Others
Nothing speaks louder to others about who you are than the way you respond in times of challenge. Eyes open a little wider and the ears perk up a little higher when struggle happens in people’s lives because they want to see what it does to them. Does it cripple or destroy them or does it cause that person to rise a to a new level of strength and growth? Whether it’s a painful divorce, the loss of a child, an unfair boss, or nagging health problems, the way we respond to challenge has the power to strengthen others around us by how we respond.
5. Challenges Are Moments To Lean Back Into God
Challenges will bear open our souls in ways we would never do voluntarily. No one looks into the mirror during seasons of peace and ask, “How can I find something painful to go through to stretch my faith?” Joyful times do not elicit the type of life change that challenging times do. Going through difficult times in our life forces us to reevaluate where we are at with God in our life. Challenges are amazing moments where our relationship with God can grow immensely and we can learn to find the peace found only in Him.
Thankfully Jesus didn’t stop his teaching in John 16 by telling us we were destined to have trouble. He was intentional about telling us that although trouble will come we should “take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus has come to overcome our challenges and to provide us a peace that surpasses all understanding. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4:17 that “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
So keep pushing and keep fighting in your life. Look at challenges not as back crushing weights, but soul stretching opportunities. After all they only are momentary and someday as Christians we will enter our eternal rest so let’s work hard while we are here so when we get there we can enjoy it all the more.