Some see their own life as the 'worst life ever.' Others do not feel like they have experienced any real trouble. It is likely not best to compare hardships, but rather go through one's own with as much grace and trust as possible. The Bible tells us that God "Causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matthew 5:45) In the book of Ecclesiastes we learn that everyone goes through the cycles of pain and pleasure.
But how do we respond when things come to us that are larger than we can handle? Some people just work up the inner strength to meet the challenge. They have what we call intestinal fortitude... or guts. They are strong people when they need to be. From somewhere they garner the courage to meet the struggle head on... and win. But even if they lose, they exhibit a certain strength and grace. Inner strength is impressive. It helps underdogs win championships. But natural strength will only take you so far, and is no match for spiritual or opposition, or supernatural challenges.
There once was a girl named Mary. She was a teenager, engaged to a man. She was a normal girl, but God looked upon her and had a plan for her life. She was to become the mother of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. One day an angel named Gabriel came to her and this is what happened...
The angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."
Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”
The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.
And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
“I am the Lord’s slave,”said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.
So an angel shows up to tell a young virgin that she is going to give birth to the most important person in the entire history of humanity. Overwhelming much? At this point we all see that as a great blessing. But I'm sure Mary must have seen the news as a burden greater than she could bear. Certainly each Jewish woman had hoped from the time they were a child that God would bring the deliverer of mankind through them. It would be a great honor. But not a teenage virgin. This angel must have taken a wrong turn at Pleiades on his way to tell the right woman this crazy news.
Look at Mary's response... "How can I have a child since I have not done anything to become pregnant?" I think that is a legitimate question. Don't you? That is a serious sticking point. It is like telling a man with no legs that he is going to run around the world. Mary may or may not have been questioning the message of the angel, but she was certainly questioning the ability of the prophecy to come true. Talk about a challenge.
But the angel did not only deliver a message. He delivered the method. In response to Mary's question of how the impossible would be possible, Gabriel said, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." The only way Mary would see the impossible come about in her life was by the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of God.
I want you to know today that the only way you will be able to overcome the hurdles and impossibilities in your life today is by the presence and power of God. God has built into you strength, determination, endurance, and many other quality traits. But at the end of the day, you are going to face things... or God is going to want to do things that require more than the greatest effort you can give. The only way you will accomplish the will of God in your life is by the working of the Holy Spirit in your life.
The difference between most competitors and the champions is often something that cannot be seen. Often times the best built person does not win the prize. Rather it is the person who has that intangible element that comes alive and drives them to victory. Be strong. Develop and exercise your character. But know this... you will not conquer the greatest challenges in your life by sheer will power or a change of habits. It will take the presence and the power of God in your life. Trust Him. He will not bring you to something that He will not bring you through.
The apostle Paul wrote to some young Christians, "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:24) God is not just designing the plan... He is doing it in your life. Just believe in the call of God, and stop trying to figure out how you can do what only He can do.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.