Overcoming obstacles in life

“When God is going to do something wonderful, [He] always starts with a hardship; when God is going to do something amazing, [He] starts with an impossibility.” ― Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

If you came here for a step-by-step manual on how to overcome the obstacles in your life, I’m sorry to disappoint. I wish I had one. I wish uncertainty about tomorrow wasn’t a reality. Of course, what I really mean is that I wish the painful moments that are coming didn’t have to be a part of the story. I love the uncertainty that brings joy and newness. The blind date that turns into a life partner, the fear of a pregnancy that becomes a beloved child, the job loss that opens up a path to chasing your dreams. 

God never promises an obstacle-free life. The promise is that we won’t walk alone through the storm. When Jesus came to this earth He willingly entered into a broken world. He entered into suffering with us. He became the God who suffers out of His great love for us. 

He weeps when we weep

The story of Lazarus is a complicated one. In John 11 Jesus is alerted that “the one you love” is deathly ill. Instead of rushing to Lazarus’s bedside to perform the expected healing, Jesus lounges beside the table and waits for two days. He only goes once Lazarus is dead. 

When Jesus arrives at the home of Lazarus, the sisters Mary and Martha, along with a group of mourners, are consumed with grief. Jesus sees that grief and enters into it with them. 

Why did He not heal Lazarus when He could? Why did He allow those He loved, as well as Himself, to feel the full burden of death? Many times in life we are not privileged to know these answers. They are the moments that stretch and sometimes threaten our faith.

In John 11 we are given the answer to Mary and Martha’s why. Jesus allowed this to happen so that they could all witness the resurrection of Lazarus. He needed them to understand who He was and what He was truly capable of doing. Even death can not beat back the will of God. 

Even a mustard seed is enough 

God is interested not in the amount of faith you have, but in whom you put your faith in. There isn’t a magic formula. Healing doesn’t come because you have a lot of faith, and it doesn’t evade you because you only have minimal faith. Trusting God simply means that you know that this obstacle you are facing, no matter the outcome, has a purpose. God will walk through it with you. All that is asked is that you hold on and trust that God is faithful, God is working and God is preparing a future that we can not yet see. 

Overcoming obstacles in life

We overcome obstacles in life not by avoiding them but by walking through them with the God of creation, the only One who knows the past, present and future. Obstacles are not meant to be avoided. They shape us into stronger, better people.