– Hannah More
In the first place, we should “not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1st Pet 4:12), and if the trial is an obstacle between where you are and where you want to go, you will find out how and how not to overcome that obstacle. Perhaps the greatest way we can overcome these obstacles is not by looking at them at all, but rather, keeping our eyes on the goal.
When you read the word tests, trials, and temptations in the New Testament, most every one of these words come from the same Greek word (“peirasmos”) which means “an experiment, attempt, trial,” or “proving,” and that may be why God has allowed an obstacle to be placed in front of you. You know you can’t go backward, so what do you do? We don’t really fix problems as much as problems fix us. We are placed in an “experiment” or “trial” for “proving” so that we might depend on God and fix our eyes on Jesus, because if we’re focused on Jesus, the obstacles won’t seem so imposing.
I once told my son that I could lift two ton crates of goods at work, long ago when I worked in a factory. He didn’t believe me of course, but I told him, I can move two tons of material at work, but I do it 10 pounds at a time. That’s the way of the ant, not even having a master, move adequate supplies of food underground so that they can survive the harsh winter. The great obstacles to them are broken down into smaller, more managable pieces, so two-ton obstacles are not so intimidating when you take them apart, piece by piece. That should help you focus on your goal.
We are all on a journey toward the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:1-2), but until then, we are sojourners and must keep moving forward, even thru the places of spiritual wastelands. This race is going to require endurance, so we must “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1b), and even when we don’t feel like it we should “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Rom 5:3). The road to the kingdom is paved with suffering, but that cannot compare with the glory that’s coming (Rom 8:18)!
Hannah More is so right in saying, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal,” so that should allow us to see these obstacles as training and tests of our persistence which bring endurance. If we trust God with our lives, as we should, we can “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). Not even obstacles can overshadow that goal.