Jesus welcomed the people, taught them about the Kingdom of God and healed those in need. Luke 9:11

Seeds of the Kingdom

Seeing Obstacles as Opportunities

by Jilly Lyon Taylor

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-3, NIV

I suspect that many of us find it quite difficult to follow James’ instruction to consider it pure joy when we face trials and difficulties in our lives. I certainly prefer the mountain top experiences of life to the deep valleys! However, it is through the difficulties that we develop perseverance and maturity. They also provide us with opportunities to see the faithfulness of our loving Heavenly Father at work in our lives.

I was speaking at one of our Communion services at Pierrepont recently about how God can use obstacles and difficulties in our lives and turn them into opportunities for us to see His hand at work. However, when I mentioned obstacles becoming opportunities, I somehow managed to scramble the two words into one, and out of my mouth came a word (which of course is not a word at all): “obsta-tunity”! We all laughed at my mistake, but since then it has become quite a catchphrase for one or two of us as we have been challenged as to how we view difficulties.

When Joshua was leading the people of Israel into the Promised Land, having taken over from Moses, things were going quite well for them. They had crossed the River Jordan, the men had all been circumcised, and they had eaten the produce of the land for the first time after forty years of feeding on manna. However, they then found themselves facing an obstacle in their path in the form of the large, fortified city of Jericho.

The Lord appeared to Joshua and said to him, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men” (Joshua 6:2). It always amuses me that the Lord said, “See” to Joshua, because in the natural there was nothing to see except a great fortified city. But God was wanting Joshua to see with his spiritual eyes, the eyes of faith.

Joshua had been assistant to Moses and would go into the tent of meeting when Moses would go to meet with God. In Exodus 33:11 we read that after meeting with God Moses would return to the camp, but Joshua did not leave the tent. He remained in the presence of the Lord. Perhaps this was the preparation He needed to enable him to see from God’s perspective, to respond in faith regarding Jericho, and to follow God’s unusual instructions.

What about us? Are we able to see with the eyes of faith when facing difficulties? Can we see obstacles in our lives and recognise them as opportunities for us to grow in faith and to see God’s hand at work? Are there any ‘obsta-tunities’ in your life at the present time? If so, let us count them ‘pure joy’ and be expectant as to how God will bring us through.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that You have promised to be with us always and to work in all things for our good. Help me to see obstacles and difficulties from Your perspective and to trust You at all times. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Jilly Lyon Taylor is part of the Leadership Team at Ellel Pierrepont. She worked in publishing and then with children in Hong Kong before concentrating on being a full-time mother and serving in the local church. Her desire to see people healed led her to the Luke Nine Eleven Training Scheme(NETS) at Pierrepont, and now she teaches and ministers there.

 

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