Let us remember the walls of Jericho that fell because of faith (Hebrews 11:30) and trust God with the obstacles in our own lives.
One of the most frustrating aspects of moving to a new house is not being able to find things that you could’ve sworn you used to own. A couple of weeks ago, the shower handle broke off into my hand when I tried to turn off the water. I didn’t panic, because I’m a fairly clever gal, and I knew that I had basic tools to tinker with and try to fix it.
For starters, I needed a medium size Phillips-head screwdriver, a wrench, and pliers. What did I find in my freshly unpacked toolbox? One gigantic screwdriver and one small enough to repair eyeglasses. I couldn’t find a crescent wrench to save my life, and the only pliers I saw turned out to be wire cutters. I don’t know how most of my tools managed to not get packed, but I had to make a trip to the hardware store, stat.
Speaking of tools, Nehemiah knew a thing or two about moving, building, and new beginnings. He sought the favor of King Artaxerxes to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the city’s war-torn walls. Section by section, he and countless individuals worked together to repair the gates and walls of the city. In Nehemiah 4:14, he encouraged his helpers to not fear those who opposed the rebuilding effort. He said, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
Maybe you haven’t physically relocated to another house, but perhaps life has thrown some obstacles in your path that feel like one rerouted detour after another. Don’t fear. Remember the Lord, who is GREAT and AWESOME! Equip yourself with spiritual tools like the ones described in Ephesians 6. Don’t listen to the detractors who try to tear you down; keep building!
Out of curiosity, I researched a few studies about New Year resolutions to see how many of us actually stick to our guns. The findings, while unsurprising, are pretty pathetic. Results vary, of course, but roughly a third of us can’t even make it through January before tapping out; half to two-thirds bail by Easter; and less than 20% (some studies said less than 10%) follow through completely on the resolution.
That may sound a bit depressing, but it does serve as a reality check for each of us. We set goals in order to challenge ourselves. If it was easy, then we might have already done whatever it is we are resolving to do! The fact is, we will face hard times that try to derail our plans (and not just New Year resolutions). Oftentimes the roadblocks are our own fault, but sometimes life throws us a curveball, like Ecclesiastes 9:12 (NIV) says, “… people are trapped by hard times that come when they don’t expect them.”
How do we manage those unexpected hard times? How do we overcome in the face of obstacles? I love this line from the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005, Warner Bros.): when negative circumstances caused people to doubt themselves (and each other), Albus Dumbledore responded, “Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” Such decisions are seldom a cinch, but the journey – and the final result – is worth the effort.
Consider these encouraging words from 2 Corinthians 6:4b (NIV) about having a godly perspective during tough times: “We serve [God] by holding steady. We stand firm in all kinds of trouble, hard times and suffering.” Again, in 2 Timothy 4:5, Hebrews 12:7, and James 1:12, we read that our perseverance through difficult times honors the Lord. Whether the challenge you face is simply sticking to a New Year resolution, or if you encounter trials of a different variety this year, let God teach and grow you through the experience.