Part 1 - Overcoming Adversity With God
How well do you remember the old Mission Impossible television shows? Maybe you have seen the movies starring Tom Cruise as the resourceful and resilient Ethan Hunt?
There are many little lessons in the Mission Impossible storylines. The men and women serving the organization had a purpose for being involved. They had an objective. They needed training. They needed to be in submission to their authorities. They needed to be absolutely fearless!
Mission Impossible operatives came up against seemingly un-surmountable obstacles and instead of viewing it as a problem, they tackled it with resolve, putting their training to the test and worked to overcome adversity.
Just imagine how boring the Mission Impossible shows would have been if the agents never had any trouble with their missions? The show wouldn’t have lasted a week, let alone the nearly ten years that it ran.
We face adversity in our lives and unlike characters in a movie or television show, this is real.
As tough as things can get, we do have the comfort of knowing that God has a plan and we are part of it. Perhaps it will be fun for a moment to imagine we are Mission Operatives, tackling the mission God has given us here on earth.
Tip #1 for Mission Operatives: You must always be advancing!
Life is not a passive activity. We are here for a reason and never want to forget that.
Look up Jeremiah 29:11
Tip #2 for Mission Operatives: This is a Battle.
When someone comes up against some form of adversity, most often I hear the words: “I’m under attack!” as if it comes as some surprise.
Our enemy does attempt to advance and attack us. However, if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, it's us who are moving on the offensive, not the devil. So when we run into some obstacles or experience some adversity, we are not under some kind of surprise attack, we have simply come up against his defenses. Don’t panic, God has everything under control.
Look up James 4:7
Tip #3 for Mission Operatives: Expect Resistance
Ethan Hunt and his team came up against incredible resistance in the Mission Impossible movies. You can bet that whatever they were trying to get at, someone was just as determined to defend.
Instead of being shocked at the resistance, Ethan and the others simply looked for the loophole. And there is always a loophole.
When you are on the mission of fulfilling God’s purpose for your life, He will show you where the victory can be found.
Look up Isaiah 54:17
Tip #4 for Mission Operatives: Never let down your defenses.
Keep prayed up. Keep in fellowship. Keep accountable. Keep checking yourself for progress and advancement.
You know when someone is most vulnerable to attack? When they are sitting still. When they are overtired and can’t defend themselves. When they are not advancing. That is when the enemy can come along and blindside you.
Can you be doing everything you are supposed to be doing and suddenly be hit with something completely unexpected? Absolutely. But, is God still in control? You bet.
Look up Ephesians 6:11-17
Tip #5 for Mission Operatives: Keep your eye on the Primary Concern
Our Primary Concern is to be in an intimate relationship with God and see His Kingdom grow.
Adversity comes along and we are tempted to take our eyes off of the Primary Concern. We get distracted by the problems and pretty soon we have lost sight of our purpose and just try to “make it through.”
The problem with this is that as soon as one obstacle is handled, the enemy with throw out another one. If you are focused on the obstacles, you are focused on the wrong things.
Keep your focus on the Mission and these temporary concerns will come into a proper perspective.
Let’s consider Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Mary was a good girl. She was raised by loving parents with plans to get married to a good man. She loved God and was obedient to His calling. If anyone could hold to enjoy a life of peace, it’s Mary.
Yet Mary experienced serious Adversity.
Take a look at the timeline:
She received a promise from God.
She would give birth to the Messiah.
She almost lost her intended husband – but God took care of that.
In her ninth month of pregnancy, she had to ride a donkey to Bethlehem.
She had to give birth in a stable.
She had to flee with her husband and newborn baby to a strange land to protect his life.
At some point, she became a widow.
Her son was ridiculed in their hometown when he came to minister.
She watched her son die on the cross.
For Mary, as it is for many of you, adversity came in varied forms. From irritation to anguish, she faced it all.
One thing we don’t get much of an account of is her response to it all, other than in the very beginning, we know she received the promise with a willing heart and trust in God.
One thing I’m pretty sure of when Mary was experiencing adversity when things were as bad as they could be, I’m sure she was remembering the promise that God made her about her son. Mary kept her eye on the Primary Concern.
Tip #6 for Mission Operatives: Expect To Be Tested
As we grow we are tested and tried. Sometimes it feels like we’re facing the same trials again and again, doesn’t it?
We don’t love facing the same tests over and over, still, we know God knows what He is doing. I may not realize that I need the repetition, but He knows my heart.
Not every test that you re-take is about teaching you something. Sometimes God allows you to experience a trial so that you can model a grace-filled response for someone else. Maybe for your children or a friend or a complete stranger. Your response to adversity speaks volumes to the world about your faith and your belief in the kingdom's mission.
Look up Romans 8:28