Challenges and obstacles in life

Elinor Dahlke and fraternal twin Elmer at time of graduation from North Division in 1934.

“It’s easy to look at the things of this world to solve our challenges and obstacles in life, but when we submit our lives to Christ, His grace, mercy, peace, and love will bring true fulfillment to our lives.”- Bethany Hamilton, professional surfer who ultimately returned to competition following 2003 shark attack in which she lost her left arm

“For still the vision awaits it’s appointed time; it hastens to the end — it will not lie.  If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”- Habakkuk 2:3 (ESV)

My mother Elinor and fraternal twin Elmer graduated from North Division High School (Milwaukee) in the midst of a major challenge and obstacle – the Great Depression.  Even as young children, though, their parents – Hugo and Charlotte – had little money.  Consequently, Elinor and Elmer shared one tricycle, one scooter, one coaster wagon, and one sled.  Yet, Hugo and Charlotte believed strongly in Christian education.  Thus, the twins graduated from Emmaus Lutheran Church and School as well as completed confirmation there.

However, although mom typed and took shorthand proficiently, inexperienced girls found it difficult to obtain work following graduation from high school.  So when fall arrived with no job in sight, Hugo insisted that Elinor enroll in tuition-free business courses at Milwaukee Vocational School. Later, as World War II loomed, mom moved to Washington, D. C. to work for the Navy Department.  She sent a small portion of each paycheck home to support her widowed mother.  Following the war, Elinor took a position with United Airlines in Chicago.

Writing in Don’t Give Up: Faith That Gives You the Confidence to Keep Believing and the Courage to Keep Going (2019), Kyle Idleman outlines three basic obstacles we all face:

  • The Obstacle of Indifference.  Because indifference can keep us from entering the race, Pastor Idleman considers it the mother of all obstacles.  We either feel apathetic or believe nothing can be done.
  • The Obstacle of Opposition.  God creates, but Satan destroys.  So when you try to rebuild what Satan’s destroyed, expect and equal and opposite attempt at destruction.  When things get difficult, do the right thing and fight!
  • The Obstacle of Slow Progress.  You take on the fight with strength and determination, but soon realize the amount of work involved.  As you being to feel overwhelmed, you find your strength giving out.  As a result, impatience sets in.

Therefore, Kyle offers three steps to initiate when the obstacles add up, you tire of the battle, and uncleared rubble surrounds you:

 1.  Embrace the obstacles.  Rather than avoid and deny your life challenges and obstacles, face them head on.  With courage, identify and honestly assess the situation.  In addition, express confidence in God.  Address the mess.

2.  Persevere in prayer.  Pray at every juncture.  When you start your prayer with worship, you remind yourself of God’s greatness.  Also, as you remember what God’s done for you, you find courage.  Finally, Kyle exhorts, prayer connects us to the wonderful truths about God.

3.  Just keep building.  No matter what, keep on building.  Although sometimes it seems right to stop and deal with the challenges and obstacles, if at all possible continue with the work God’s called you to do.  Show everyone you mean business.  Serve God with a sense of urgency.

About the author

    Dave Henning