Mountain climber

Why do some people beat the odds and others don’t?

Some people remain stuck. Their addictions are just as strong as ever. Their life is defined by loneliness, anxiety, anger, or fear. Their traumatic childhood continues to dictate their emotions and behavior decades later. Their unhealthy lifestyle and the diseases it leads to catches up with them, while they continue to live the same way. They may die young, miserable, and lonely. They may get older, but nothing else changes.

Other people overcome tremendous obstacles. They beat their addiction and live clean and sober for the rest of their lives. They leave their fear, anger, PTSD, and self-destructive behaviors in the past. They quit smoking or lose 100 pounds or otherwise make dramatic lifestyle changes and realize the benefits. They stop relying on violence, control, or illegal activities. They grab poverty by the horns and make something of themselves, and then help others. They forge strong connections with other people and experience loving friends and family. The trajectory of their life changes in ways that make their future entirely different.

What makes the difference? Why do some people remain stuck even while continuing to pray “God, help me!” repeatedly? Why secret magic ingredient do other people have that allows them to get better in spite of the odds against them?

The difference is certainly not genetics, money, or even God. Sure, genetics and money may offer some an easier time than others, but that’s not the deciding factor. And you know as well as I do that there are Christians who remain broken and miserable and angry indefinitely.

The answer is not a secret. Here are 3 questions that will determine whether you’re one of those who remain stuck, or whether you’re an overcomer:

  1. Do you want to get better? Jesus asked the paralytic, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6) In sports, the team that wins the game may not be the most talented, but is the one who wants it most. Some people, sadly, would rather stay sick, broke, or miserable than make the dramatic changes it would take to have a different future. It takes more than a simple wish. It takes a resolute determination that will stop at absolutely nothing.
  2. Are you willing to get help? You often need a coach, a teacher, a doctor, a therapist, a guide. You don’t know everything to do on your own. If you did, you probably wouldn’t be in the situation you find yourself in now. And God’s help fits here too. Even Jesus couldn’t do miracles in the place where He wasn’t welcomed and believed. (Matthew 13:58) God Himself won’t force His help on someone who doesn’t welcome Him.
  3. What are you willing to do or risk? Naaman had to dip in the dirty river Jordan 7 times. (2 Kings 5:9-14) The blind man had to risk his reputation in calling out to Jesus. (Mark 10:46-52) Jesus’ disciples had to leave everything. Everything! (Mark 10:28-30) Bethany Hamilton had to get back up on the surfboard. Ben Carson had to read and go to school when other kids were goofing off. Martin Luther had to risk and then face the wrath of the whole Catholic church. It takes what it takes.

We’re not promised a given result for a given amount of effort. There’s no one opportunity or one individual that is guaranteed to make the once-in-a-lifetime difference for you. There’s no one prayer or one Scripture or one spiritual discipline that will do it.

But one thing is guaranteed. If you give up, you’ll never get there.

So what about you?

  1. Do you want to get better? Do you want to stop smoking or lose weight, really? Do you want to learn how to forgive and be free of the pain from your past? Do you want to get over your addiction, or learn how to have a relationship not based on violence? Do you want to be happy, connect with people, or find God’s purpose for your life?
  2. Are you willing to get help? Are you willing to take the doctor’s advice on changing your lifestyle? Will you follow, really follow, what the addiction recovery program asks you to do? Will you put in the time to study people who have made money, or accomplished something you’d like to do? Are you willing to stay on your knees until you hear from God?
  3. What are you willing to do or risk? Are you willing to experience the pain of withdrawal, or the sleep-deprived nights of study? Will you risk your friends or family calling you crazy? Will you put what resources you have on the line to buy help, resources, or advice? Will you bring your doubt or anxiety to God for however long it takes to hear His answer?

It takes what it takes. Don’t quit before your miracle.

You can be one of those who succeeds against all odds.

Your Turn: Where do you see yourself in these 3 questions? Are you willing to do what it takes? Leave a comment below.

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