On Challenges: Obstacles or Stepping Stones

Mountaintop

I get a little tired of hearing the words ‘adversity’, ‘trials’, ‘challenges’, and the like. The Christian world, since the beginning of the Christian era, has largely portrayed life as something that is supposed to be unpleasant, difficult, and generally rotten. God is not pleased unless we’re suffering. It doesn’t give one much hope.

We all certainly do have our share of challenges of every sort, but I propose that the way we perceive them makes a huge difference in our outlook.

For instance, what do you think of when you hear the word ‘problem’? Does it sound fun? Probably not. Yet in math books, math …situations… are referred to as problems. Although they may, indeed, not be fun for everyone, they are a means of learning and improving, and not a bad thing, especially if you’ve learned the processes and algorithms to work them out. With the proper knowledge and training, the ‘problems’ needn’t be unpleasant.

In my writing I’m often presented with ‘challenges’, another word often associated with unpleasantness. My challenges involve working out plot problems, characterization, point of view, and problems with prose. I’m here to tell you that I…freakin’…love those challenges. They are what make writing fun for me. The more challenging the problems are, the more fun I’m having. It’s why I do what I do. If I had no challenges in my writing, I wouldn’t want to do it.

I don’t see life’s challenges as something we’re supposed to just endure or slog through with weighted boots. I see them as something that, though sometimes horrific and scary, are really stepping stones to bring us to a higher place. God is NOT pleased with our suffering. He’s pleased with our triumph over difficulties. He’s cheering us on because he can see the big picture, the tremendous growth, our ultimate achievement of our goals, and, well, pleasantness.

Think of the mountain climber who voluntarily makes a difficult climb to the tippy-top of a mountain. The trial of the climb was made easier because of the reward–the amazing view at the top and the sense of accomplishment at having reached it. I don’t imagine God saying, “I want you to suffer through this climb because it’s good for you.” I imagine him saying, “Ah, this is nuthin’. Wait till you see this view. You are gonna love it. Come on, what are you waiting for? Let’s get bookin’!”

It’s all in the perspective. Obstacles aren’t supposed to look like walls of stone holding us back. They’re supposed to look like something to climb on top of to get a better view. And who wouldn’t want that?

 

 

 

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