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By Pastor Jim Neal
First Southern Baptist Church, Shafter 

Pastor's Corner: The struggle makes the victory sweet


Last updated 8/5/2020 at 2:03am | View PDF

“I can do all things through Christ

who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Have you ever come against a struggle, a roadblock, or a seemingly insurmountable obstacle? Of course, you have if you have lived any length of time or tried anything considered off the beaten path. Sometimes those barriers are self-imposed; other times they are tossed in your path by a boss, a co-worker, a foe, or friend. It matters not how they get there; they hurt and challenge just the same. Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves (or learn for the first time) that the Apostle Paul wrote this uplifting and affirming passage from a prison cell in Rome. That was quite a roadblock I would say, wouldn’t you?

The immediate action by many when confronted by challenges is to try and skirt the issue, take a detour or in some way play “ostrich” by sticking their heads in the sand and pretending they are not there, better known as escapism. I imagine that becomes normal as we are bombarded by commercials that tell us there is a better way, a new pill, or a plan that is “fail-proof” be they from TV, radio, Facebook, the internet or email.

However, haven’t we more times than not found that once the storm has been weathered, the obstacle overcome, or the mountain of grief climbed that we end up coming to agreement with Albert Einstein who said, “One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity.” In other words, we find ourselves stronger, wiser and more confident after meeting the task head on.

Funny how life works, isn’t it? It is the struggle that makes the victory so sweet. I do not know who said this but the nugget, “don’t curse the darkness, light a candle,” sure applies to my life and to yours as well I am sure.

Solomon in all his wisdom said, “If you faint in the time of adversity, your strength is small!” I wish I could say I like and enjoy this Proverb; however, many times I am challenged by it because I seem to find myself ‘fainting’ in the times of adversity, at least in the beginning. Yet, I have found that the strength comes as I realize the basic truth that of his axiom, and that is, that adversities are a part of life, period!! We cannot escape them until our bodies are laid to their final rest.

So, what is the solution? Victory comes as we remember these three points 1) challenges, obstacles and hurdles are a part of life, get used to it. 2) They can either make us bitter or better, your choice, and 3) Whatever we spend our time focusing on becomes the giant in our lives; so, focus on the solution, the victory, and the power you have within (Philippines 4:13) and not on the problem that lies before you.

I suppose the biggest challenge is that we must live life in the gear of ‘drive’ but we learn and grow best in the gear of ‘reverse’. Hindsight as is said is always 20/20; however, we must plow through to receive that perfect vision and thought.

Have a great week plowing ahead…

Jim Neal is pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Shafter.


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