Coping with Challenge, with God alongside
Lent – Week 2 – Challenge
One of the questions asked in this week’s session has been about the challenges people are facing or have faced in their work. Here’s what one person wrote for us a while back:
Whilst praying about this reflection, I was reminded of the story of Gideon in the Book of Judges. The Israelites were in a huge time of challenge, having all their food, property and dignity stolen by the Midianites. Gideon was a young Israelite from a weak tribe whom God chose to free His people from the conflict. My goodness was Gideon surprised and afraid! God asked him to do some truly brave and dramatic things. Amongst other things, he destroyed an altar to a false god and sent thousands of volunteer soldiers away leaving him with an army of only 300 men! I urge you to read the story if you are not familiar with it, as it is a powerful illustration of how God can bring you through a challenge! (The story is in the book of Judges, chapters 6-8)
Gideon’s obedience to God, doing things that he never dreamed were possible, never mind that he would do them, brought the Israelites through an incredibly difficult time. We can apply this obedience to Him to our life today when we are faced with challenge.
Last year, I was faced with a great challenge at work. Whilst I won’t go into detail in this reflection, I will say that I felt very disempowered and upset about a situation that seemed way beyond my control.
During this time I drew very much from the strength and wisdom that only God can provide but it wasn’t easy! As human beings we spend a lot of time trying to fix situations and problems ourselves. We have a tendency to try to lean on all we know about the world instead of, as Jesus reminded us in Matthew’s Gospel (ch19 v26), Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Eventually I stopped trying to resolve the situation myself and committed it completely to God, I followed what I knew was His wisdom in the situation. I spent time listening to Him in worship and prayer, and took on an obedience that I never had before. My impulsivity receded and I had a patience and acceptance that I had also never had before. I now know that God guided me through the challenge, and I am so much happier now that it has been resolved.
Next time you are challenged, spend time listening and being obedient to what He asks you to do. Try to remember the words from Jesus because, as Gideon and I have learnt; with God everything is possible.
The person depicted in this image, chosen by the writer of today’s reflection, is Sisyphus. According to Greek myth, Sisyphus was punished for challenging the gods (hubris). They condemned him to spend eternity rolling a boulder uphill; each time he neared the top it rolled back. The downward sweep of Burne-Jones’s design emphasises the fruitlessness of Sisyphus’s labour. Our challenges, especially the constant ones, may make life seem similarly fruitless at times. However, our writer urges people to keep their eyes on God and know that he is alongside us as we face the challenges of life.
Title: Sisyphus. Artist: Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt. Date of Work: c1870. Photo and description: © Tate, London, 2014