Those who overcome
By A. Ray Lee
For many years while ministering as a pastor, chaplain and encourager, I have stood with countless individuals during crises that included long extended illnesses and death, major family disruptions, financial hardships and other disastrous events and circumstances. I have witnessed their varied responses – sometimes with joy and at other times with sadness.
Some individuals physically survive life-shaking ordeals only to spend their remaining days in despondency with a stoic acceptance of what has happened to them while finding no joy in the present or hope for the future.
Broken in spirit, they view what has happened as “their cross to bear.”
Others are able to overcome the effects of their difficulties and get beyond what they have endured. They are not defeated in spirit. They do not dwell in the past but embrace each new day with hope and confidence.
Their question is not “Why have all these things come upon me?” but “How can I get beyond them?”
Let me share the stories of two who are overcomers.
Recently I had the privilege of delivering a eulogy for one who had celebrated her 90th birthday.
When her husband died at an early age, she was left with five small children and little means with which to provide for their needs. She had been a stay-at-home mother with no work experience other than what she had gained growing up on a small cotton farm.
While others might have given up in despair, she dedicated herself to keeping the family together and providing for their basic needs. Her love found a way.
Later tragedies and difficulties were met with the same resolute faith, enabling her to overcome each situation that would have defeated many.
Her grateful children are blessed by her memory.
I know a fellow minister who continues to be faithful to his calling at an age when few of our peers remain active. He has suffered the loss of a beloved spouse after a long debilitating illness, and his grief has been compounded by serious sicknesses suffered by other members of his family. He now faces physical impediments that would discourage many.
But he has overcome his own heartache, grief and pain to continue – long beyond normal retirement age – to fulfill his calling by serving a congregation with a spirit of humility and love.
His example is an encouragement to all who know him.
I have come to certain conclusions about those who overcome. They seem to have some things in common.
They do not constantly dwell on the past, with its heartaches and pain. They confidently face the future, trusting in the providence of God even when they cannot envision what the future might hold for them.
They have anchored their lives to a strong foundation of faith, believing God will provide for their needs as they trust Him. When the storms come, their anchor holds fast.