Life feeling like an uphill struggle? Jonathan Schnarr, Youth Minister at St George & St Paul, Tiverton, shares how we can be encouraged by Jesus, the Ultimate Overcomer.
Last weekend, I drove to Okehampton to watch 2500 students from all over the U.K. embark on an incredible adventure as they attempted to finish the 35, 45 or 55 mile challenge, climbing 10 of the many tors dotted around Dartmoor. The groups left very early Saturday morning, camped overnight and returned back to the Army Camp the next day, shattered and with blisters, but euphoric to have finished the challenge.
I spoke to one participant after she had crossed the finish line and, reveling in her victory, she said: “Every time we trained for this, it would take us hours to get from tor to tor, but yesterday we just went for it and were a lot quicker, even though the route was so much longer - just because we had other teams around us and knew people were rooting for us along the finish line…”
I love the Ten Tors challenge a lot as it gives young people the opportunity to try out something new and push beyond what seems possible. The comment from the participant made me think about our Christian life, too: sometimes there are just so many 'mountains' ahead of us that it seems impossible to be joyful. Many times I have faced challenges that looked seemingly impenetrable: moving to England when I was 18, raising endless funds for a degree, losing friends or family members while being far away or simply having to cook dinner after a long and stressful day…
However, as I look back over these situations, whether big or small, I can safely say that I have overcome each one because of people who surround me, as well as someone rooting for me constantly: Jesus, the ultimate overcomer.
On Sunday we are focusing on the passage of the Rich Man asking Jesus about inheriting eternal life. After that conversation in Mark 10, Jesus turned to his disciples and said: “With man [things are] impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with Him.” (verse 27).
It strikes me that so often we come to the end of our own strength, yet when we focus on God and find rest and confidence in him, we are able to overcome our fears, our worries and the challenges that seemed so overbearing at first. Because Jesus overcame death and made it possible for us to draw close to him, we can be content in the knowledge that we, too, can overcome exam stress, work politics, depression, family arguments, future anxiety, relationship worries or peer pressure. Because Jesus overcame, we can be overcomers, too.
I want to challenge you this week to reflect on Jesus as the ultimate overcomer, enabling us to overcome our challenges, helping us to “sing over my sorrows, dance over my troubles and laugh in the face of my trials.” (Lucy Grimble)
(Click the above image to listen to 'Overcomer' by Lucy Grimble)
Jonathan, Youth Minister
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