Opportunities or Obstacles


I must admit that I have been much of a skeptic since I was a child. People have frequently asked me the proverbial question: Do you see the cup half empty or half full? In reality, I can’t see in the cup, so I have to ask questions to give me more information. Many of us react differently to situations or circumstances. When we encounter test, trials, or difficulties, do we see Opportunities or Obstacles.  Truthfully, how we see a situation has everything to do with how we think.

What governs your thoughts will dictate how you think about things. For believers, God is constantly challenging us with situations or circumstances. He wants us to assess whether we see Opportunities or Obstacles. The connotation of both is easily discernible. Opportunities are perceived positively and are faith-based. Obstacles are perceived negatively and are fear-based. Let’s look at John 6 for a prime example.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

As an aside but important point, we need to recognize that Jesus sees us and sees our need. He saw the crowd following Him and He was concerned about their physical needs. Jesus is aware of what we need and appropriates resources to attend to those needs.

We also need to recognize that Jesus will test us in order for us to assess whether we see Opportunities or Obstacles. He asked Philip where shall we find bread for the people to eat.  Philip said, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Philip, because He did not think about Jesus as provider, saw the 5,000 plus people and the amount of food it would take to feed them as an Obstacle. Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many? While Andrew’s thinking was more positive than Philip’s, he too saw an Obstacle because the five loaves and two fish were not enough as the viability of that small amount of food to feed the people was questioned.

In contrast, Jesus saw feeding the crowd as an Opportunities. “11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” While we must discount that Jesus is God incarnate, He was modeling for us how we should see test, trials, or difficulties. We should see them as Opportunities for God to reveal Himself by either providing or proving that He can give us peace during that test, trials or difficulty. Jesus modeled on whom our focus and dependence should be. Jesus gave thanks to God the Father. Jesus depended on God. We should depend on God.

When we look to God, God helps us to see Opportunities not Obstacles. I can personally attest to this with my current employment situation. It is time for me to move on to face other challenges. People have questioned whether I am truly as confident and calm as I seem. When I focus on Jesus or keep my eyes on God (provider) and what He can do, I can emphatically say YES. When I see the problem over the provider, I can emphatically say NO. What governs your thoughts will dictate how you think about things. For believers, we should see God, our provider, greater than our problem. When we do, we see Opportunities not Obstacles.

What are you facing now? Do you see them as Opportunities or Obstacles? If the latter, look to God to provide. If the former, give thanks to God and stand firm.

 

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