Read Romans 8:37
In early 2005, 15 year old Bethany Hamilton won her first National Title in surfing at the Explorer Women’s division of the NSSA National Championships. Just over a year prior to this, Bethany’s left arm was ripped off by a tiger shark while she was surfing with friends. What happened in between those two events makes all the difference in the world.
No one is immune from challenge. Some are big (like having your arm bit off by a shark). Others are small; but we’ve all faced them. The difference lies in the choice we make in how each of us responds to the challenge. Some choose fight; others flee; and still others – flop. That one decision – how we choose to respond – will lead to victory or defeat. The choice is ours.
The examples of people who have overcome incredible obstacles to achieve even more incredible victories are endless. Just go to your favorite internet search engine and enter people who have overcome adversity and you will find stories that may surprise you and will most certainly inspire you. Every single one of these people chose to face extraordinary challenges and to never give up. If they decided to flee or flop, they would not have had the impact on the world that we experience today.
The Bible also gives us some great examples of why it is worth it to face the challenge. Take a look at some of these stories and you will see that the Lord will certainly lead us to victory. You also will see, however, that He requires something of us – the willingness to persevere. Joshua and Caleb were the only two of the original group of Israelites that left Egypt to make it into the Promised Land (Numbers 14:30). They chose to believe in and see the victory that God had promised them – even though it took 40 years. While still a teenager, David was the only one who trusted God enough to face the giant Goliath, for he was confident that, “the Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”(1 Samuel 17:37) Today, nearly everyone knows and is inspired by the story of David and Goliath. Do you remember Daniel, Shadrach, Meschac and Abednego? In spite of the threat of punishment and even death, all four of these men (even when they were still boys) chose to hold true to God’s standard for their lives, did not give in to fear, and allowed God to bring them victory over Babylonian peer pressure, a fiery furnace and a den of lions (Daniel 1:1 – Daniel 6:28).
Let’s take another look at Bethany and the impact of her choice. Today, Bethany Hamilton is known around the world as the Soul Surfer (a recent major motion picture). Her experience has brought her to a place where she has received numerous awards and speaking engagements as well as the opportunity to publish many articles, books and blogs. Bethany has an opportunity to encourage and inspire others unlike most others because she chose to achieve in spite of losing her arm. Now, for another amazing tidbit: if she had never lost her arm in a shark attack, you and I would likely never have heard of Bethany Hamilton. Bethany, most likely, would not be the inspiration that she is to thousands of children and adults throughout the world. She chose to take this very tragic event and turn it into an achievement that has impacted not only her life but the lives of those who have come to know her story. I am certain she made the right choice. What choice will you make?