Have you ever noticed how every time you try to take a step in a healthier direction, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, obstacles seem to spring up all around you? As if someone or something wants to keep you down and not allow you to grow and to flourish?
I’ve had this happen in my life, time and time again. If I’m giving in to the lure of laziness or to the alluring smell of chocolate, then things go fairly smoothly in my life. Sure, I’m tired because I’m out of shape. And I’m chubby from eating all the things. And every little thing that’s out of the ordinary seems overwhelming. But as long as I maintain the status quo or even am sliding backward, most of life seems to go fairly smoothly.
But as soon as I make a decision to step forward and to make a positive change in my life, I’m hit with obstacles from all angles.
I start exercising and I break my foot making it hard for me to continue.
I stop eating junk food and I get invited to multiple family gathering which involve food that I shouldn’t be eating.
I try to be better about keeping the house tidy and suddenly I have all sorts of extra appointments I need to attend which make it difficult to keep up on the housework.
What’s Going On?
As a Christian, I know that we actually do have forces which are working against us. An opposition which wants to keep us fat and lazy, unable or unwilling to do the tasks that God sets before us. So, when we take a step in the right direction, Satan is quick to try to discourage us. To knock us back to where we started.
And, of course, we also have our own sinful natures that we have to fight against as well.
But, if we can gather up the will to break free from our inertia and take that first step, we will often find that it’s easier to keep moving forward.
What Should I Do?
So, the next time you want to make a positive change in your life and you are facing obstacles, what should you do?
Here are 3 Ways to Successfully Overcome Obstacles:
1 – Pray
Praying should always be our first step. I confess that prayer isn’t always the first thing I think about doing. But when I do take the time to ask God for strength and wisdom, I always do better than when I try to face the situation with my own power.
There are lots of verses which talk about how God wants to help us carry our burdens. But here are a few which are especially encouraging to me when I’m facing obstacles.
Psalm 34:17-19 says, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
And Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
We will all go through difficult circumstances in this life, but we don’t have to go through them alone.
2 – Change Your Perspective
When I’m facing obstacles, it is natural for me to become discouraged and to worry. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal so when it looks like things aren’t going to turn out the way I was hoping, it’s easy for me to give up. But I’m learning to change my mindset and view my difficult circumstances as a challenge that I can overcome rather than as an obstacle that will defeat me.
My husband and I recently started trying to eat right and exercise in an attempt to lose weight yet again. We were doing well and made it through our first week and a half or so of modifying our diet, keeping track of the calories we were eating, and being more active. And we were both seeing positive results. We felt less lethargic and we were losing weight. We were energized!
And then an obstacle appeared before me. Apparently, I had a night terror because I woke up in the middle of the night screaming and sweating, half falling out of my bed. And several of the toes on my left foot felt like they’d been put into a vice and snapped in half. I was in some pretty awful pain.
My husband was able to wake me up and calm me down. But my foot continued to hurt throughout the night and into the next day. I couldn’t walk very well due to the pain. My first thought was discouragement that I would no longer be able to take my daily power walks. How could I continue to lose weight if I couldn’t even walk?!?
After a day of discouragement, my husband suggested that I go to YouTube and search for exercise routines that I could do with a broken foot. And to my surprise, I was able to find some great ones. These exercises helped me to not only stay active but also to lift my spirits.
So, even though that obstacle was thrown into my path, I was able to crawl over it and continue my journey to greater health. After about a month of doing vigorous chair exercises, my toes finally started to heal and I was able to walk on flat surfaces with sandals again. Challenge accepted!
3 – Ask for Advice
When we are in the midst of a difficult season, we would be wise to learn from those who have gone before us. We aren’t alone! There are lots of wise people in our lives who would be happy to listen and to share whatever lessons they’ve learned along the way.
We’re all different so we won’t all approach life in the same way. And all advice that we receive won’t necessarily be relevant for us. But we can usually glean at least a small tidbit of wisdom from other people’s experience.
Be willing to be honest with your struggles and to open up to at least a few trusted people who are in similar situations and you’ll be amazed at how much they can help. Whether that’s learning what to do or what NOT to do.
BONUS TIP – Be Thankful
I’ve got a bonus tip for you. God wants us to have thankful hearts no matter what we’re going through. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” When we’re facing obstacles, it’s difficult to be thankful. But that’s exactly what God says he wants us to do, so it must be possible.
The more gratitude we have in our hearts, the less stressed out we’ll be and the more we’ll be able to think clearly. This reminds me of something Corrie Ten Boom said in her book “The Hiding Place.” She tells of a time when she and her family are locked up in a concentration camp during WWII. And the conditions are horrendous. The guards are terrible. And to add to their misery, even their bedding has fleas.
Corrie is upset about the fleas but her sister, Betsey, insists that they be thankful for everything they experience including the fleas. And it turns out, those fleas are so miserable that the guards steer clear of their room. And their absence allows the girls to hold Bible studies with their fellow prisoners. Even the fleas had a purpose in God’s plan for their lives.
Life is full of obstacles and we are the only ones who can decide whether we will allow our difficult circumstances to knock us off course or to merely slow us down while we search for a solution. With the right mindset, we can use the setbacks we experience in life to propel us forward with creative solutions we might not have otherwise discovered.
How have you been successful at overcoming the obstacles in your life? Do you have any other tips you can share? Please leave a comment below.