Overcoming in troubled times

We win. I thought I should start with that reminder. It’s important that we remember this every day, especially in a crazy year like 2020! When all hell breaks loose around us, we need to remember that heaven is for us, and the One who holds the cosmos together abides within us.

You know that, right?

Furthermore, if we forget that Jesus already defeated the enemy of our soul on the cross, we won’t live our lives from victory, we’ll be forever fighting for victory. We must remember this so that no matter how crazy our world gets, or whatever may seem to be true, we know “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom.8:37)…and “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Rom.8:28).

You may have heard the old story about the turkey and the eagle:

“A turkey and an eagle react differently to the threat of a storm. A turkey reacts by running under the barn, hoping the storm won’t come near. On the other hand, an eagle leaves the security of its nest and spreads its wings to ride the air currents of the approaching storm, knowing they will carry it higher in the sky than it could soar on its own. Based on your reactions to the storms of life, which are you? A turkey or an eagle?” (unknown source)

This story should locate us and our response to 2020.

NOTE: Be sure to read Tom and my conversation about this story in the comments below. You can go to them here.

I suggest that instead of being fearful or angry, dragged down by what’s going on around you, why not soar into the heights with God!

31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isa.40:31 NIV)

How do we do this? Paul had some pretty good advice in Philippians 4:

Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! Let gentleness be seen in every relationship, for our Lord is ever near. (Phil.4:4-5 TPT)

Notice the wording…BE cheerful and joyful…LET joy overflow. That means this is up to us! We have the power to release joy in our lives! We LET gentleness be seen in every relationship. We can do this when we live like we’re aware of God’s presence with us and in us at all times.

While this may not change our circumstances, it will change our perspective, and we will grow in faith through it instead of ending up broken and ruined.

Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. (Phil.4:6-7 TPT)

How do we not get pulled in every direction? Not worry? We give everything over to God. This is cathartic prayer. We tell Him everything and give it over to Him (which means it’s not ours anymore!) This requires learning how to trust and not lean on our own understanding.

But it’s more than just an ongoing heart-dump; it’s an opportunity to grow in God! Here’s what Graham Cooke says about our troubling circumstances:

“The Holy Spirit is the one who teaches us to love the learning that is present in every circumstance. And He’s empowering us to learn the nature of God in the context of relational learning.”

You see, times of trouble are just “wind currents” for you and me to catch and soar to higher heights with God! Holy Spirit teaches us through relational learning, which is critical to all spiritual growth.

8 So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always. Follow the example of all that we have imparted to you and the God of peace will be with you in all things. (Phil.4:4-9 TPT*)

What we choose to feed our heart on affects everything about our outlook on life, even our health.

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating; we’re not called to be Twitter-led, circumstance-led, politically-led, we’re called to be SPIRIT led! What happens when we feed on the news day and night? You do understand their main job is not to give you the news (especially, unbiased news!) It’s to keep you agitated so you’ll keep watching for their ad sponsors.

But when we’re constantly in this agitated or fearful state we’re living from our reptile brain. It’s the “angry mob” brain—the fight-or-flight mode of thinking.

Beloved, you cannot hear God when you’re living in fight-or-flight mode (like the turkey). However, if you’re like the eagle waiting for the storm’s wind currents, your heart will soar into the heavenlies and He will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.”

Here’s the thing: You can only go in one direction at a time. You can either worry or pray and be grateful. You can’t do both.  So you choose whether to walk according to the world around you, or walk in a peace that’s totally counter-intuitive, it makes no sense, and it transcends human understanding.

The peace of God is no small thing! It’s the greatest weapon you and I have against the enemy of our soul. He’s absolutely powerless to counteract it!

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet…” (Rom.16:20 NIV)

What this all means is that 2020 is shaping up to be an awesome year for incredible growth in God for you! And remember…you win.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 39 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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22 Responses to Overcoming in troubled times

  1. pkadams says:

    Thank you for this needed reminder!

  2. jonahzsong says:

    Wonderful! I especially found this helpful: “The peace of God is no small thing! It’s the greatest weapon you and I have against the enemy of our soul. He’s absolutely powerless to counteract it!”

    Thank you.

    L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

  3. Citizen Tom says:

    @Mel Wild

    Enjoyed your post!

    I am an old Air Force guy. Actually had a pilot license for awhile. So, I appreciated the story about the eagle and the turkey. However, just as the Air Force avoids storms so do eagles. I use to work in satellite control center. To avoid bad weather, we spend lots of money on such things as weather satellites.

    Thomas is my middle name. Can’t help myself. I like something to be skeptical about. Since such tales as that about the eagle and the turkey fascinate me, I googled the subject. The idea that eagles fly into storms seems to be widespread, but they ride them out in their nests or perched in a sturdy tree. Would be suicidal to do otherwise. The interior of a thunderstorm is full of chaotic power. That is the place where the whirlwind is given birth. Except for Ben Franklin, his kite, and a key, neither man nor bird wants anything to do with such a hellish place.

    If you think more about it, I believe you will realize the story cannot be true. Eagles (and gliders) do make use of thermals and the winds rising up hills and mountains, but jet fighters, even the F-15 Eagle, avoid flying into storms.

    Thunderstorms can form clouds that rise up to 40,000 feet. An eagle can get up 10,000 feet. Jets can fly over a storm, but eagles cannot. Even small propeller driven aircraft have to fly around a storm or land.

    So, how did this story about eagles and turkeys come to be? I can only guess, but I know why it spread. We want to believe it. We want to believe we are invulnerable, that we can survive storms without suffering, but we do suffer. Sometimes God gives us an escape, but often God gives only us the strength to endure. Enduring a terrible storm is no fun.

    As you said, our Lord gives us peace and joy. Our Lord enables our hearts to rise above the storms, but our flesh must still endure the pain.

    As you said, we know we know that in our Lord we already have victory. It is our joy in that knowledge that even within a terrible storm rises above like an eagle on a beautiful, sunny day. Because we know God loves us we know the storm will pass. We know it came to pass. We also our joy in Him will last forever.

    Thanks for your post.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Sure, Tom, ruin a good story with aeronautical facts. 🙂 Next, I suppose you’re going to say that Ben Franklin didn’t actually want a turkey instead of the Bald eagle for the national bird. LOL!

      You’re probably right about flying into actual storms. But, as you mentioned, eagles do make use of the winds to soar higher. And this makes the Isaiah 40:31 passage relevant. So, you could adapt the story to talk about the “winds” of life blowing on you or something like that (if you must be a stickler!)

      Btw, here’s a great quote from Ben Franklin on his distaste for bald eagles. This is from a letter to his daughter. So, this would be a good quote to ruin their reputation as our national bird. 😛

      “For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

      With all this injustice, he is never in good case but like those among men who live by sharping & robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our country…”

      “I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”(Franklin Institute vis Smithsonian Magazine)

      • Citizen Tom says:

        @Mel Wild

        Well, a wild turkey is as I understand it a relatively smart bird, and a bald eagle is a scavenger. So, Franklin has a point, but a bald eagle is much more impressive. Remember how King Saul got the job.

        • Mel Wild says:

          We have wild turkeys in the woods behind our house. Our cats steer clear of those birds!

        • Citizen Tom says:

          @Mel Wood

          Turkeys are big birds. Too big for house cats.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Hey Tom. I was thinking about what we’re talking about here with the eagle’s nature and Ben Franklin’s dislike of their character to make them our national bird, and I think there’s an even better story to glean from it!

          According to Franklin, eagles are of bad moral character, cowards, and scavengers (they are related to the turkey vulture. We have a lot of those around here, too). But doesn’t this describe us before Christ picked us up out of the “miry clay” of our own self-destruction? There was nothing about us to be honored and cherished. But, much to the enemy’s chagrin, like Franklin with the Bald Eagle, God picks us up, honors us, and makes us His own sons and daughters. And He makes us soar in the heavenlies with Him!

          So, the moral of the story is that it’s HIS life, His moral character, HIS sustaining power that makes us who we are, not who we were apart from Him. That sounds like the gospel to me! 🙂

        • Citizen Tom says:

          @Mel Wild

          Interesting. Don’t disagree. Just look at the issue more literally, I suppose.

          I am speculating, but I think Franklin errored when he tried to find character in an animal. Turkeys eat insects, but they are mostly herbivorous. Therefore, they seem well behaved. They just eat what they find as they find it.

          Turkeys don’t get in the muck. They are nimble and clever. They also taste good.
          Not so with bald eagles. Survival requires them to be opportunistic. They eat carrion, nasty stuff. If they can steal what they need from another bird they are going to do it. Nevertheless, when eagles “misbehave”, they don’t sin. Eagles cannot sin. Animals cannot sin. They just do what they were made to do.

          Consider how the Bible uses the lion, supposedly a noble animal. Jesus is referred to as the Lion of Judah, but the Bible also refers to the Devil as a prowling lion seeking to devour our souls. Is the character of the lion good or bad? Neither, I think. The Bible refers to the power of the lion, not its character. A lion cannot sin.

          We can sin because God made us in His image. We can love. We can know the difference between good and evil.

          Sin is a abhorrent to God. When Adam sinned, did he become less than an eagle or a lion? Perhaps. With his behavior Adam did what neither an eagle or lion can do. He dishonored His Creator. Therefore, when you speak of Christ picking us up out the “miry clay”, I wonder. Why did God curse His Creation for our sake? Were we not worse than anything else He had created? Apparently not. Even though we had sinned, we are made in the image of God. To be made in the image of God must mean more than we know. We are His children. So He loves us in spite of our foolishness.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I think Franklin was anthropomorphizing, not being literal, which is how the Bible often uses animals or nature to tell about our nature and God’s grace.

        • Citizen Tom says:

          @Mel Wild

          I could be wrong — had not thought about this before. Well, I will stick my neck out. We are guilty anthropomorphizing, but I don’t think there is much of that in the Bible. We are likened to sheep, but the Bible doesn’t humanize sheep or eagles or ants or oxen and so forth. Instead, the Bible uses sheep to show us how to follow our shepherd and to illustrate our shepherd’s concern. Eagles you have already covered. Ants show us industry. An ox is a symbol of strength.

          This seems as close as it gets, and the humor is obvious.

          Proverbs 30:24-31
          English Standard Version
          24 Four things on earth are small,
          but they are exceedingly wise:
          25 the ants are a people not strong,
          yet they provide their food in the summer;
          26 the rock badgers are a people not mighty,
          yet they make their homes in the cliffs;
          27 the locusts have no king,
          yet all of them march in rank;
          28 the lizard you can take in your hands,
          yet it is in kings’ palaces.

          29 Three things are stately in their tread;
          four are stately in their stride:
          30 the lion, which is mightiest among beasts
          and does not turn back before any;
          31 the strutting rooster,[a] the he-goat,
          and a king whose army is with him.[b]

        • Mel Wild says:

          There’s actually quite a bit of anthropomorphisms in the poetic and prophetic texts, especially talking about God…He will cover us with his feathers….we can hide in the shelter of His wings, He has eyes, hands, feet, smoke comes out His nostrils, arms…He clucks, gathers us like a mother hen, He roars like a Lion, runs through the earth, etc….which, obviously, none of these things are to be taken literally. Not to mention, we have trees clapping their hands, and much more. All are anthropomorphisms.

        • Citizen Tom says:

          @Mel Wild

          True! I was referring to humanizing animals. The rocks crying out is another, but this is obvious hyperbole.

          God is a spirit we don’t know understand. So the Bible uses we what do understand. I think the Bible gets around the problem that we might think of God as a man by using innumerable anthropomorphisms and names for Him.

        • Citizen Tom says:

          @Mel Wild

          I suppose I should make a clarification. The term anthropomorphism refers to the attribution of human feelings and motives to animals, plants, and nonliving things. I am guessing a bit, but I suspect that anthropomorphisms in the Bible are largely used to describe the character of God, not animals, plants, and nonliving things. I also think the Bible attributes animal characteristics to describe God for similar reasons. God has to use what we can relate to to describe Himself, but God clearly does not want us to think of Him as man or beast, and He does not want us to humanize or deify beasts. So, the use of anthropomorphisms and the attribution of animal features in the Bible is common with respect to God but limited otherwise.

          As I say, I could be wrong about this, but I am brainstorming and just wondering what you think.

          I did a quick search on “Bible anthropomorphisms” and the references said that anthropomorphisms are most commonly used with respect to God. That largely fits your examples.

          When he made a covenant with God, Abraham saw God as a smoking oven and a burning torch. God presents Himself to us as suits the occasion. Why? We can know Him, but we cannot comprehend Him. Wonderful, but also disconcerting, often quite frightening, and invariably confusing.

    • Mel Wild says:

      “As you said, our Lord gives us peace and joy. Our Lord enables our hearts to rise above the storms, but our flesh must still endure the pain.”

      Tom, that IS my point. And, not only that, going through difficulty, even pain, is an opportunity to grow strong in the Lord, not be broken by it. This is quite foreign to many American Christians, but it was pretty central to the early church. Here’s what Peter said about it….

      6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Pet.1:6-7 NIV)

  4. Ha! I missed all the great discussion about turkeys and eagles. So, I happen to dislike turkeys on account of having been attacked as a kid several times. Personally I think God just created them to be eaten. I’ve said such things out loud before and the Turkey Defense League has come after me. Eagles on the other hand, are simply amazing. I spend a great deal of time watching them and making sure I don’t get in their way. They can take out a coyote if they feel like it.

    • Mel Wild says:

      We have LOTS of bald eagles around here, being on the Mississippi River. Sometimes, you’ll see five or six in a tree. It’s hilarious looking, seeing all those big birds in a tree. I love watching them, too.

      They are scavengers, though. My wife was driving on a river road notorious for roadkill one time. And she had to stop for a huge Bald Eagle in the middle of the road examining some fresh road kill. She sat there for about five minutes and the bird wouldn’t budge! She said he stared at her like he was saying, “What?” I’m eating here!” Finally, after a couple more minutes he decided to fly away.

  5. Pingback: Turning traps into triumphs in Christ | In My Father's House

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