If you’ve made it past that subtitle, you’re doing pretty good so far. I don’t know about you, but I hate it when I hear that what I want isn’t the same as what I need. Especially when it comes to something I am really praying for. A breakthrough. Victory. Provision.That mountain to move outta my way.
So what are you supposed to do when your problem just won’t budge? Is it really possible to be an overcomer, to live victoriously, when you are still right in the thick of it with no solution in sight? I say it is, but more importantly, God says that it is.
Desperate for a Change?
I am blessed to have some really good friends in Uganda, several of whom my husband and I have walked closely with for many years. If you have ever been to a third-world country, you know the poverty there is heartbreaking. Poor infrastructure, corruption, widespread illness, and limited resources all contribute to (and reinforce) the overall lack of money in people’s pockets.
I have often felt frustrated and helpless knowing that even if we can meet a financial need today, that same need will be there tomorrow. It feels impossible to make a lasting impact. I can only imagine how helpless it must feel to be the person on the other end of that problem. In fact, a recent conversation with one such person inspired me to seek the Lord on this topic.
Never having enough money is one example of a problem that doesn’t seem to budge for some people. Others long to be married, yet remain single year after year, wondering if they’ll ever find that someone they were made for. Some worry, What if I can’t have children? What if I’m stuck in a loveless marriage with no real hope of improvement? What if I can’t pick up and move somewhere else?
Sound familiar? If not one of those scenarios, it’s likely you can think of another that fits your own situation.
There is Hope, In the Form of an Action Plan
While I don’t have the solution to your problem (or mine), I have been asking the Lord for strategies to live like an overcomer even in the midst of situations that don’t change. I’m preaching this to myself, too–I’m no authority, just a fellow traveler on this journey. But I’m learning to walk in the authority I have and with confidence to speak hope and encouragement into the dark places of our lives. So here it goes:
- Write down what your situation is as simply and plainly as possible. (for example, “I never have enough money to meet my needs.”) Now take an honest, in-depth look at it. Pick your problem apart and ask yourself some questions about it (Never? What does enough mean to you?). What you want to do is make sure the problem you think you are facing is actually the problem you are facing (Do you really not have enough money, or is the fear of not having enough your main problem?).
- Brainstorm with someone wise, smart, and creative that you trust. What are some things you could do to address your problem? Think creatively, think short term, medium term, and long term. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone.
- Set realistic goals for yourself, and take one small step toward those goals TODAY. It doesn’t matter how small it is, as long as it’s something. Make a list and check them off as you accomplish them.
- Nothing you can do to change the situation? Don’t despair. Don’t lose hope. If you can’t change your situation, change your strategy by changing your focus.
- Be persistent in prayer about your situation without making the removal of your problem your main focus. Don’t allow yourself to believe that your answer to prayer is the only answer to that prayer. Too often we orient our whole lives around, “If only I had X, then I would finally be Y (happier, more successful, secure, etc.).” The Lord knows (and you know, too) that there are no quick fixes or easy answers to life’s more complicated problems.
- God always, always uses our circumstances for our good, and He often uses the most difficult ones to accomplish things that wouldn’t happen any other way. However, we need to agree to that work and partner with Him. We cannot set our will against His and expect Him to do great things in us.
- Ask the Lord to uniquely teach you and equip you through your circumstance, and give that prayer priority over the prayer to fix your problem. Be persistent in that prayer. While there are some prayers to which the Lord may answer “no” or “not yet”, this prayer isn’t one of them. You can be sure He will teach you, equip you, and accomplish something great within you if you ask.
- Set some personal goals that will help you walk out the work God is doing in you. Are you asking the Lord for boldness? Challenge yourself to do something bold as He’s beginning to develop it in you. Don’t wait until you feel ‘fully equipped’ (we are never fully equipped!). Practice living the life you’re asking for!
There is an Overcomer Within You
If you belong to Jesus, you already are an overcomer, because the Holy Spirit lives in you. You just have to allow Him to do what He does best! I have (until now) left out the word just from anything I’ve written. ‘Just follow these steps’ implies that it is easy to do, and I think Christians can sometimes inadvertently hurt one another by oversimplifying someone else’s problem. But in this case, just is warranted. Just allow Him to be who He is–your God, your teacher, your leader through circumstances you don’t know how to fix anyway. It’s a simple decision. And while it isn’t always easy to surrender yourself to Him, He will help you (another guaranteed answer to prayer) if you ask.
Living like an overcomer doesn’t mean you’ve gotten the breakthrough you’ve wanted to finally eliminate your problem. It means you are living victoriously despite your circumstances, and have not allowed them to define you. Rather, it’s Jesus who defines who you are, because of what He has overcome. And when you also overcome, you look like Jesus.
You Can’t Overcome if You Remain Passive
Finally, if you want to live like an overcomer, you must take action. You can’t allow life and its circumstances (good or bad) to just wash over you while you sit there. It would be like allowing the relentless ocean waves to knock you over again and again. You must either get out of the waves, or find something to steady you against them.
I have always longed to be that overcomer. That desire has pulled me through the darkest seasons. And once you begin to really live that way, you long for it in others, too. It’s a deep, passionate longing to stir up and inspire one another to come alongside you and live that victorious life…together.
You can do this, overcoming one. The reward is great, and unlike your problem that won’t budge, it will last forever.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33