The hurdler crouches in position, ready to take on the obstacles before him or her.
- They can run straight ahead, head down, plowing through whatever gets in their way.
- They can practice physical form and mental diligence to think through each step along the way.
- They can take each obstacle as it comes, one at a time, and hope for the best.
None of these is necessarily right or wrong. All have value and blind spots.
Is one best?
A combination of all three?
The Bible doesn’t give us a play-by-play for each challenge we face. However, it does speak to how we can weather the highs and lows.
Scripture gives us all the necessary principles for running the race and finishing well.
God gave us his Word to equip us (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and Christ sent the Holy Spirit to be our helper, to encourage us, and to reveal truth to us (John 14:25-27).
When we face obstacles, we are not alone. We have the most critical tools we need.
Just like the hurdler, we can race through life in a many different ways.
Seven Biblical Methods for Responding to Obstacles
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to our obstacles.
Created in God’s image, we are all made uniquely with different preferences and perspectives.
Not only that, but no two obstacles are exactly the same.
We find comfort and support in loved ones who can relate to the pressures and pleasure of life, but each trial is distinct from the next.
I won’t suggest that a set of rules will guarantee you overcome a challenge with a happy heart, smiling face, and desired outcome. Life is hard, and I don’t know your struggles.
I do know that Scripture gives us principles to live by in any situation that help orient our face to our Father God (Proverbs 4:25-27).
With our eyes on him, we remember his truth and grace, keeping a right perspective.
No really, take a deep breath. My husband makes me do this.
I usually protest, but it actually works.
While you’re breathing in deeply, remember, you are not alone (Hosea 2:19-20; Romans 8:38-39; Psalm 73:23-26; Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Hebrews 13:4).
I’m a first-offender here.
I like to know what’s going to happen and exactly how, but that’s just silly.
I have little to no control in most areas of my life, especially the hard ones. If I did, they would not be so hard.
I have to audibly remind myself, let go.
Release the white-knuckled grip you have on your life; it’s not helping.
Passivity and complete submission are not the goal here. God calls us to active responsibility in our lives.
Remember, you cannot control the emotions and feelings of another human being. Trying to do so will create frustration, pain, and disappointment.
Instead, focus on your agency in a situation (Proverbs 3:5-6; Philippians 4:6).
Keep your eyes on the prize – in every case, it’s Jesus.
This one is hardest when obstacles seem insurmountable and cruel. We want to ignore God, run away from him, or yell at him in protest.
But, God repeatedly reminds us of his goodness. In his presence is JOY.
In him, we have eternal life and nothing can change that.
Christ has won; he has overcome the world. Our faith in him guarantees our eternal inheritance (Psalm 16:11, John 1:4-5, John 10:28, John 16:33).
Pray and Listen
We can’t hear God unless we listen.
I often forget to listen when I pray and pray and pray.
While the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), it also reminds us to pay attention to God.
God doesn’t promise to answer your prayers by giving you exactly what you want, but he promises to hear them.
I won’t hear the Spirit speaking to me unless I sit with God and actively listen to him. He speaks through Scripture, through his Spirit, and through others (Proverbs 2:1-5, John 10:27-28, Deuteronomy 28:1-2, Psalm 46:10, 2 Chronicles 7:14).
This one is really hard. Things are not going our way and we are supposed to sing praises?
David provides powerful examples in the Psalms. He cries out to God in anguish and he praises God, recognizing his glory, power, and goodness (1 Peter 4:12-19, Psalm 142, Psalm 34).
God has written a divine, inspiring, comforting, living love letter to you that will give you life.
Read through Scripture, praying for the Spirit to speak to you through the Word (Hebrews 4:12, Jeremiah 15:16, John 4:14, Psalm 119:105).
We can’t do it alone. We are created for community and relationships.
In times of hardship, we need the support of loved ones. Seek a community of wisdom and love, so that in the midst of obstacles, you have people you can trust (Galatians 6:2, Romans 12:3-13, Hebrews 10:24-25, James 1:5, Proverbs 15:22, Proverbs 13:20).
Obstacles are inevitable. We can expect them.
Instead of despair, we can have hope knowing that we will never face a hardship alone.
These seven biblical methods for responding to obstacles are just a sample of biblical wisdom we can apply when running into them.
Each obstacle may require a different approach depending on circumstances and a number of factors. God doesn’t give us a secret formula.
Instead, he gave us his one and only Son. It’s through him that we have the power to truly overcome obstacles and finish the race strong.
How do you respond to obstacles? What principles help you keep your eyes on God?