Have Courage in the Face of Challenges
David faced many challenges in his life. Along the way, he faced a lion, a bear, a giant, and many other challenges and problems. How David chose to face his challenges were the key to his success and impact as a leader.
The confrontation with Goliath is a great example of David’s courage in the face of adversity (1 Samuel 17).
Israel and the Philistines were at war, each on a hill with a valley between them. Goliath from Gath was the Philistines champion. He was over nine feet tall with bronze armour and a bronze spear. He had a shield bearer who went ahead of him. Goliath defiantly challenged Israel to come and fight with him. Saul and the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. For forty days, he came forward every morning and evening and took his stand. The enemy is passionate, intense and unrelenting in his attack. He is determined to intimidate and destroy God’s people.
Here we have a challenge that in the natural seems impossible. Saul, the leader of the nation, is afraid and does not know what to do. As a result, the people are afraid and discouraged. They ran from Goliath in great fear (vs.24).
David now enters the scene. He is the youngest son (of eight) of Jesse and he has the responsibility of tending his father’s sheep at Bethlehem (vs.12-15). He three older brothers were in Saul’s army (vs.13). Jesse sent David to check out how things were going at the battlefield (vs.17-20).
David has a warrior spirit of faith. His first words were, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God (vs.26)? When he spoke with Saul, his first words were, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” David refused to be intimidated by what he saw with his eyes or the natural circumstances. He looked at things with the eyes of faith and with a confidence in God’s ability to do the impossible.
Intimidation came from (1) his older brother Eliab who seemed jealous and envious of David (vs.28), from (2) King Saul who looked down on him because of his youthfulness (vs.33), and from (3) Goliath himself who ridiculed him (vs.42f).
In the face of all of this, David has amazing confidence and courage! His faith was in the power of his God. He saw victory was a certainty. There was no doubt in his mind. He saw it as the Lord’s battle! David’s personal faith in God was enough to carry the nation forward into victory. His faith was strong in the midst of the intimidation, doubt and unbelief of everyone who was around him (brothers, Saul and Goliath).
The faith of one person led to victory and then the entire nation’s confidence rose. One young man stepped forward and God brought a great victory through him. David won the battle through his faith in God, his boldness to step out and his courage to believe that God would use him. There was no doubt or fear in his heart or mind. He believed that God would give him the victory that day and it happened.
Of course, life itself can be challenge at times.
• Some are facing sickness that won’t go away (either yours or a family member’s)
• Some are facing a marriage that’s not going well or family conflict
• Others are facing singleness issues, time pressures (balancing a busy career, family and a ministry), fatigue (you’re tired and run down), financial pressures that are beyond your ability to solve in the short term or personal internal issues that you grapple with every day (habits of life that you’re trying to change).
A few things we need to understand about our challenges …
• Believe that they have the potential to make you strong.
The very process of facing and dealing with life’s challenges is how we become strong people. You can’t develop ‘strength’ without pressure and without a degree of stress (and sometimes even pain). The hard times can make us strong. Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors. ~ African Proverb
How we think about our challenges is vital. The quality of ‘resilience’ is the ability to successfully meet and surmount challenges, obstacles, and problems. This quality is not hereditary and it has nothing to do with your talent or even your anointing. It has to do with your way of thinking – how you look at and interpret life’s challenges.
I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. ~Mother Teresa
• Do what you can to overcome them.
Don’t give in or just come under the challenge. Give your best efforts to face it head on and believe for a solution. Give it your best prayers, your best thinking and your best energy. There’s always something you can do to either completely conquer the challenge or at least minimize its impact. Sometimes there are tough choices to be made, changes to be embraced and maybe even compromises where we have to choose less than the ideal. Sometimes you need to try a different approach – a different tack. Look at it a different way or do something different about it. Don’t ignore your challenges and try not to be overwhelmed by them. Refuse to just give up and become a ‘victim’. Determine to be a ‘victor’ no matter how long it takes.
• Draw on God’s strength.
Notice I said, “Draw on” not “Ask for”. Why? Because God always makes his grace available for us when facing challenges. In fact, he always sends ‘more than enough’ for what we are going through. Sometimes in the moment we may not ‘feel’ it, but when looking back, you’ll see it – amazing sustaining grace. Grace – it’s not just about salvation; it’s about life. Grace is his goodness but also his ability and his strength to cope (2 Cor.12:7-10). Challenges do many things but one thing is for sure - they make you dependent. You are acutely aware of your desperate need for God. You pray more and you trust and rely far less in your self (not a bad place to be).
•Choose to be optimistic about the future.
Expect things to work out well and in the mean time embrace a high tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty (Jer.29:11. 2 Cor.4:15-18). If we are not careful, challenges have a way of subtly draining away our sense of ‘hope’. It’s like the pressures of realities of today blind us from any respite tomorrow. We can slowly begin to believe that things will never change or that the challenges may never go away. Let’s be real clear – just choosing to be optimistic doesn’t guarantee that the challenges will go away but we can believe that even if they don’t God’s grace will carry us through.
What challenge are you facing right now?