Facing Challenges

by Pastor Dan

Maybe you have heard phrases like, “Why is all this happening to me?” or “I can’t seem to catch a break!”  

In my late teens and early twenties, at least one evening a week, I would go to the local youth detention center to spend time with those incarcerated.  At that time in my life, I saw the world very differently than I do now, and I verbalized it differently too.  In Psalms 13, the Psalmist says “How long, O Lord?  Will You forget me forever?  How long will You hide Your face from me?  How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all day?  How long will my enemy be exalted over me?”
I will never forget one visit when a young man just sat dejected with his face in his hands and would not respond to me.  I challenged him to a game of one-on-one basketball, and he jumped at the opportunity.  As we were getting ready to play, I said if you win, you have to talk with me.  As a side note, I had the confidence I could win.  He won and agreed to talk.  His first statement to me was, “Everyone is out to get me, and I have lost all hope.”  

Look what the Psalmist says in Verse 4:  “And my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.”  I knew right then that the phrases “You just need to do better” or “Make better choices” was not going to work.  In the next couple of months, there were many games of basketball, and over time, there was a trust built to where this young man would ask many questions.  Why do you care?  Why would you come in here to be with us?  

Over the next couple of years after his release, we stayed in touch, and he made some wonderful changes in his life.  You see, it’s not only about making better choices and needing to do better, but it is about seeking God and His will for our lives.  The Psalmist realized this as well.   He was in captivity because of not following God’s plan and came to the place where he said, “But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness, my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalms 13:5-6.  

I am once again reminded that it is not about the challenges we face but the strength God gives us to face them with His strength and confidence, leaving the outcome up to Him.  What is your outlook on the challenges you’re facing today?  

Pastor Dan