Life is not only about winning or losing.
We have an opportunity to learn from every challenge. We can also turn losses into wins and use failure to improve our methods and message. Seeing life as a challenge positions our minds and hearts to face challenges with the right perspective. Wars are won and lost, but challenges drive us to stay in battle and make the best of the opportunity.
So, let’s look at a few challenges most of us face.
Yes, we all have them.
- The challenge to stay positive
- The challenge to compare ourselves
- The challenge to be grateful
- The challenge to please others
- The challenge to waste your time
- The challenge to taking risks
These are just a few challenges, and we could have listed hundreds. It’s not important how many challenges you face, but to learn through the ones that show up.
Cultural wars are real, and there are things that are not suitable for a healthy society. I find abortion repulsive, but I feel deep pain for the mothers that make that decision. I also can’t entirely agree with some gender issues, but I do not hate those dealing with confusion.
We often fight for our personal views on our social media streams. Most of us think we have the skinny on how everyone should live. Cultural battles are against the issues, not those on the side of the issue. So our war is not against other people.
Fantasizing that we’re at war can give us a lot of energy to vigorously “defend our positions.
More than fighting for the culture we prefer, we should fight to be our best. Let’s get informed, and if it goes our way, awesome. If it does not go our way, we don’t lose the war; we lose the battle. In the loss, we return to the battlefield through prayer. We also need to learn how to love our enemies properly.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5:43–45, NKJV)
The scriptures reveal a war between the flesh and spirit. Every human faces this flesh/spirit battle. Adam and Eve opened the door to the flesh/spirit battle when they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
John Piper says, “the flesh is the ego which feels an emptiness and uses the resources in its own power to try to fill it. Flesh is the “I” who tries to satisfy me with anything but God’s mercy.”
This tree is defined perfectly — the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
So humanity has the power to do good or evil, and the flesh nature reflects and performs both good and evil deeds. We see both evil and good in this world, and the flesh nature carries the fruit of both. The flesh constantly wants more of both good and bad stuff. The flesh wants the cake when your heart desires to lose weight. The flesh nature craves sex even outside of marriage. The flesh is never satisfied, but it can be resisted by our will and God’s power.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16–18, ESV)
This challenge is a war. The Bible clearly states we are engaged in a spiritual battle, and Christians are soldiers in the army of God.
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. (II Timothy 2:2–3, ESV)
This paragraph from Christianity.com takes us deeper.
Understand that there is a war, and you are in it. Like it or not, we all are in the spiritual battle between good and evil. If you don’t engage in the war, you’ll still be affected by it — and you’ll be much more vulnerable to evil than if you decided to fight as God calls you to do. So be active, not passive. Engage in spiritual warfare with the confidence that God’s power working through you is more significant than any evil working against you. Your prayers can help prevent bad things and usher good things into people’s lives. Listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings for guidance about how best to pray for what’s most needed — and then pray to advance God’s kingdom on Earth and stop the spread of evil.
Spiritual warfare is just that — it’s war in the spirit realm, and you discern the battle by your Spirit. An example is you sense a lack of confidence in yourself when you are usually confident. Your spirit discerns you are warring with oppressive spirits coming against your thoughts and mind. Most spiritual warfare occurs in the spirit realm and manifests in your mind, which is why the Bible says to take specific thoughts captive.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments, and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (II Corinthians 10:3–6, ESV)
We are to take every thought captive that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (II Cor. 10:6). This means we take negative thoughts hostage and exchange them with God’s thinking.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” — these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except for the Spirit of that person, which is in him? So also, no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (I Corinthians 2:9–16, ESV)
The passage is powerful. The Spirit of God searches everything, including our thoughts and hearts. The Spirit of God gives us an understanding of the battles we face, and the Spirit discerns the battle and provides us with the insight and foresight to win the battle.
Therefore, we must learn the things of the Spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us God’s ways. We do not possess the mind of Christ in all matters, but the Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom of God to win the spiritual battles we face. The Spirit knows all things and searches all things. Christians are dealing with personal challenges, cultural challenges, flesh challenges, and spiritual challenges, but we can learn and grow through every challenge.
We also have a helper — the Holy Spirit.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:15–27, ESV)
Life is a challenge, but you can win, grow and learn.
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