(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 9 of Never Give Up! by. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
Joyce Meyer begins Chapter 9, Overcoming the Obstacles to Success with an interesting and insightful story about a very smart donkey. The donkey fell into a deep well. His owner, the farmer didn't know what to do and decided to bury the donkey in the well. He figured that the donkey was old and it would be too much trouble to try and get him out. The amazing thing is that every time a shovelful of dirt fell on the donkey, he shook it off and climbed on top of it. Eventually, the dirt that was intended to bury him was used to eventually lead the donkey to climb out of the well. Who knew we could learn so much from a donkey! Joyce uses this to encourage us to "let the circumstances that could suffocate you be the very situations that strengthen you and raise you to a new level". (p.127) Every time we encounter a disappointment or endure an especially difficult period, we can use this principle. Once it is behind us, or under our feet, we can move onward and upward, closer to where we need to be. Looking at it this way, I've got quite a few illnesses, regressions, doctors, professionals, IEP meetings and other difficult learning curves under my feet. Learning from, making the best of, and sometimes just plain surviving is also a victory and just as valuable as a big gain is when it comes to getting my son to where he needs to be. It's also so important to take into account the work that God is doing in me, the qualities He's honing and skills that I wouldn't learn otherwise, not to mention the ripple effect of lives that are touched by our journey through autism.
Joyce identifies seven obstacles that Satan uses to block us from persevering to our victory. They are: The to Quit, Personal Problems, Rejection, Wanting Too Much Too Soon, Inconvenience, Jealousy and Selfishness. As we've seen in previous chapters, it is often when we are on the brink of a major breakthrough that the enemy pulls out all the stops to try and get us to give up. I think that at different times, I have been guilty of falling prey to just about all of these. Fortunately she also gives us great ways to combat these roadblocks so that they don't derail us. It's sometimes hard to remember that pushing past these kinds of obstacles glorifies God, show's His hand and makes the victories that much sweeter.
The Temptation to Quit: I think this one ties in and relates to all the others. This journey through autism is by no means fair or reasonable. Throughout our struggles there are many seemingly legitimate reasons to not push through and continue with what we believe God wants us to do individually. Joyce recommends that we are to immediately turn to God in prayer and resist this at the very instant the temptation to quit hits us. On page 130, she states, "Be sure that you work with God and pray that you won't surrender to the temptation to give up. Ask Him to help you to finish what He has called you to do, be all He wants you to be, do all He wants you to do, and have all He wants you to have."
Personal Problems: Have you ever noticed that personal problems often come at the most inopportune times, detracting from where you believe God wants you to focus? On page 131, Joyce states, "To be people who remain determined and diligent, we must learn how to make it through times of personal pain." She does clarify this to add that there will be times where we simply can't keep a commitment and that is the right decision. But, in every situation possible, it is so very important to keep our word, and continue doing what God sets for us to do, especially when we can help someone else.
Rejection: When we step out in faith we will often have to endure criticism or may even lose a few friends. Joyce states on page 132 "We need to remember that we may not please people all the time, but if we please God, that is what really matters." God is teaching me about this in my own life, little by little. I'm learning that overcoming this will not only help me get closer to my goal, but will also leave me with a sense of self-worth that is unshakable. I think that having full confidence that you are doing what God wants you to do and full knowledge of His love for you is such an amazing gift.
Wanting Too Much Too Soon: Once I got to this part, I felt the need to underline, highlight and star this section because this is definitely a trap that I fall into. I am probably most guilty of trying to get ahead of myself and God, doing too much too fast and not having the patience to wait for Him to lead me. Joyce puts this into perspective beautifully on page 135, "Eagerly embrace the times of teaching and preparation He takes you through, even when it seems painfully slow. Don't long for too much too fast, be thankful every day that God is bringing growth, expansion, and new opportunities your way in His perfect timing."
Inconvenience: It is amazing how much we have at our fingertips so easily. We are able to accomplish and learn more in a shorter period of time than ever before. Sometimes we expect this to mean that we won't have to face as much difficulty. Joyce reminds us of how God can use every difficulty for our benefit when she states on page 136, "He made you in such a way that the best comes out of you when you face hard situations and you experience joy and strength when you overcome them."
Jealousy: This is one that we really don't like about ourselves. This is especially devious because it turns us against eachother as women and mothers, when we can accomplish so much more as allies. It is also a good way for the devil to take our focus off of what will help us. On page 137, Joyce writes, "Part of overcoming the obstacle of jealousy is trusting God enough to believe that His plan for each of us is perfect."
Selfishness: At first I thought, "But how can we be considered selfish? So many mothers give up and sacrifice so much for the benefit of their children." Joyce reminds us about the nature of our flesh, stating "It says that feeling good right now is more valuable than living a disciplined, committed lifestyle that will result in the achievement of our goals and the fulfillment of our destinies." (p.139) We have to remember that our enemy will use anything he possibly can to keep us from doing what God wants us to do.
Thank you so much for each mother that is a part of this study and for this wonderful book by Joyce Meyer. Thank you for your faithfulness to our children and in our journey to be in closer relationship to You. Help us to recognize and triumph over the things that keep us from you and your purpose for our lives. Give us the wisdom, patience and strength to persevere in our efforts to help our children. Teach us to see how You work in all situations and give us the faith that is needed for complete trust in Your perfect and wonderful plan for our lives. May we always be brave enough to follow where you will lead us. We ask all of these things in your name, Lord Jesus.