Break Through External Obstacles (4-2)
Faith is not logic neither illogic but theological - Mark Batterson
One day, a young teenage boy, Joseph, got a dream and was very excited. He could not help to run to his ten older brothers to tell them that his brothers were bowing down to him so they hated him. Another day, they threw him into a pit and wanted to kill him because they were jealous of him.
It’s the end of a day, Joy was requested to meet her manager and was told that her position was eliminated immediately because the company underperformed and has to cut headcount. She was deeply shocked. With passion and a calling from deep her heart, she joined the company, put her whole heart and work extra hours to help the company grow but end in a broken heart.
Could you relate anything similar in life? You get a dream and pursue it with your whole heart, but you are hit hard on the journey unexpectedly as Joseph did. This is the brutal fact that you have to face in life.
You are on the journey to Grow to Your Fullest, Step 3, the series of Breaking through External Obstacles. In the last post, we talked one of the Six Elements of Faith, Faith Is Holding on the Vision that encourages you to focus on your vision even when you are in the darkest hours and see a breakthrough. Today, let’s discuss the second element of faith - faith is confronting brutal facts so you are not blindly optimistic but confronting reality with right faith and figure out a practical and wise strategy for breakthrough.
In growing into our fullness, having a stubborn and unwavering faith tied to the vision we hold is a necessity. However, we should not confuse this with the brutal facts we face in life. We cannot simply make brutal facts disappear in our time with bold actions. Sometimes it’s so delusional for people to become blind optimists.
In his book Good to Great, Jamie Collins wrote Mr. Stockdale’s story. During the Vietnam War in 1965, Stockdale was locked up in Hoa Lo Prison for about eight years where he was constantly tortured severely and isolated with other prisoners. However, with his unshakable faith, he was able to step out of the shadow of death with little odds. The unending darkness cruel realities Stockdale faced deeply depressed Mr. Collins and he could not help asked, “How on earth did he deal with this when he was actually there and did not know the end of the story?”
In searching for the answer, Collins interviewed Stockdale. Stockdale said “I never lost faith, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life.” When Collins asked who didn’t make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied, “Oh, that’s easy. The optimists! Oh, they said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. Then they died of a broken heart.”
Stockdale added, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be” (Good to Great).
Do not confuse our unshakable faith with our wishful results and our own timing or ways of solving problems. The Lord said:“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Do not confuse faith with optimism or positive thinking. Optimism believes things to happen as what people desire by their own will and plan in their own way with self-confidence; faith is to believe things to happen as what God desires according to His will and plan. People with faith have a yielding spirit to God’s will. No matter what is the result, they can see the goodness from God’s perspective. Sometimes, God does things as what people expect, sometimes He does not.
Optimists lose hope when things do not go their way. They can be frustrated, resentful, whining or giving up but people of faith will not lose hope when things do not go their way and they know it’s time to experience God’s miracle.
Let’s get back to Joseph’s story. When he was in the pit, he did not just wait for dying but cried out to his God. God sent a passenger passed by and saved him. The passenger brought him to a far away country, Egypt and sold him as a servant to a rich man. With faith, he did everything right with a good heart. However his fate was not end in good instead he was put into jail when he refused to have an affair with his master’s wife… In jail, he did not know when he could be out; still he kept his faith and doing right. At the end he was exalted to the prime minister of the King.
Joy lost job but did not lost her heart. She continued pursuing a noble cause consistently with her faith in God. After two months, she landed a much better job in a well known company.
The brutal facts in life are real. Some are caused by a corrupted world; some are our born limitations. We usually ignore the later. We have eyes but we cannot see arrows flying to us behind; we can live without oxygen for over six minutes. We as humans rely on so many things to live that are not made by us like oxygen. We have to face those facts and being humble.
Faith is about being prepared to cope with brutal facts with perseverance. Faith is to believe God is the final winner at His own time though you do not know when and how. Follow Him no matter how different the way you actually take is from the way you planned. Are you facing a cruel adversity? Acknowledge it, wait for God and take risk for a breakthrough!
In the next post, I will introduce the third element of faith – faith is taking risk and being discerning so you can take a leap of faith bravely with discernment.
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May you grow to your fullest!
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