How Do You Perceive Obstacles?
- Monday, September 10, 2007
Do what you know and perception is converted into character.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome. All that an obstacle does with brave men is, not to frighten them, but to challenge them
In college, I took an elective class called “Psychology of Stress.” I thought it would be an interesting subject, one that I could relate to as I worked to finish up my double major before the student loans ran out. The main premise of the class was to determine what the basis of stress is, recognize those “activators” of stress, acknowledge how it affected us, and train ourselves in how to overcome it. We learned how every situation we encounter could be perceived as stressful or as non-stressful. A situation perceived as a threat, a danger or a rejection may produce stress and anxiety. A situation perceived to be a challenge or exciting, could create exhilaration.
According to Merriam-Webster, perception means “a mental image” and perceives means “to regard as being such.”
If we perceive something in our life to be an obstacle, we “regard it being such” and our perception or mental image will be negative. But if we perceive something in our life to be a challenge or a passage to something better, our mental image will be positive.
I have always heard that “perception is everything,” and I have come to believe this for myself. If you watch any “Court TV” or “Entertainment” style television show, or even the news, you’ll no doubt see judgment being thrust upon another person. Most of the judgment is negative and based upon a perception of the person’s character with a limited number of facts.
Job’s life is a great example of perception and obstacles. Throughout his struggle of losing his children, his wealth, his standing in the community, and his health, his wife and friends perceived his circumstances as being God’s judgment for a past sin.
- “Your children obviously sinned against him, so their punishment was well deserved.” (Job 8:4)
- “Get rid of your sins and leave all iniquity behind you.” (Job 12:14)
- “Will you continue on the old paths where evil people have walked?” (Job 22:15)
But, according to Job 1:1, we learn that Job was “blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.”
Despite the scrutiny from his wife, friends, and from his own agony, Job showed that a believer doesn’t need to renounce God. He can question God along the way, but never deny Him or demand answers from Him. For the most part, Job perceived his situation as part of God’s plan, to which he acknowledges in Job 42:2-3.
“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”
David, with the spirit of the Lord upon him, saw obstacles in his life as opportunities “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:46). He believed that every battle was not his own, but rather the Lord’s. When he heard about the giant Goliath defying the armies of the living God, challenging any Israelite to combat, instead of running away in fear as many of those in the army did before him, he told King Saul, “Don’t worry about a thing; I’ll go fight this Philistine!” (1 Samuel 17:32).
David, a youth at the time, had no obligation to be there on the battlefield. He was a shepherd and part-time musician for the King. His older brother, Eliab, questioned David’s real purpose for being there, accusing him of being prideful and dishonest. Saul told David that he was “not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him.” Regardless of what others thought, David went into the battle confident of his Lord, “Today the Lord will conquer you” (1 Samuel 17:46)
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