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By Pastor Jim Neal
First Southern Baptist Church, Shafter 

Pastor's Corner - March 5, 2020

Learn from the past, but learn to plow ahead


Last updated 3/7/2020 at 6:42pm | View PDF

“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” --Proverbs 24:10

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” --Napoleon Hill

Have you ever come against a struggle, a roadblock or a seemingly insurmountable obstacle? Of course you have, if you have lived any length of time or tried anything considered off the beaten path. Sometimes those barriers are self-imposed; other times they are tossed in your path by a boss, a coworker, a foe or friend. It matters not how they got there; they hurt and challenge just the same.

Dr. Albert Sweitzer once said of adversity, “One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity.”

The immediate action for many is to try and skirt the issue, take a detour or in someway play “ostrich” by pretending they are not there, better known as escapism. I imagine that becomes normal as we are bombarded by commercials that tell us there is a better way, a new pill for consumption or a plan that is “failproof,” be they from TV, radio, Facebook or email.

However, haven’t we more times than not found that once the storm has been weathered, the obstacle overcome, or the mountain of grief climbed that we stand perhaps a little battered and bruised but standing taller. We find ourselves stronger, wiser and more confident. Funny how life works, isn’t it? It is the struggle that makes the victory so sweet. I do not know who said this but the nugget, “don’t curse the darkness, light a candle” sure applies to my life and to yours as well, I am sure.

Solomon in all his wisdom said, “If you faint in the time of adversity, your strength is small!” I wish I could always say that I enjoy this Proverb; however, many times I am challenged by it because I seem to find myself “fainting” in the times of adversity, at least in the beginning. Yet, I find and have found that the strength comes as I realize the basic truth that of his axiom, and that is that adversities are a part of life, period! It is when we battle through an adversity that we are once again reminded of the awesome truth of Paul’s words in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” We cannot escape them until our bodies are laid to their final rest.

So, what is the solution? Victory comes as we remember these three points: 1) challenges, obstacles and hurdles are a part of life, and are God-ordained -- get used to it; 2) They can either make us bitter or better, our choice -- choose wisely; and 3) Whatever we spend our time focusing on becomes the giant in our lives; so, focus on the solution, victory and the power within (Philippines 4:13) and not on the problem that lies before you. (Philippines 4:4-8)

I suppose the biggest challenge is that we live life in the gear of “drive” but we learn and grow in the gear of “reverse.” Hindsight as is said is always 20/20; however, we must plow through to receive that perfect vision and thought.

Have a great week plowing ahead…

Jim Neal is pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Shafter.


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