Somebody has overcome the very challenge you are facing right now. When we feed on testimonies of people coming out of great difficulty, it helps us believe we can too.
The Bible is full of people who overcame seemingly impossible situations. We have examples in our forerunners of faith to show us that we are not alone in feeling overwhelmed or discouraged when we face obstacles. Their stories remind us afresh that just because something seems hopeless, doesn’t mean it is.
Here are some situations in the Bible that seemed hopeless but were not:
He Denied His Faith – Peter said he would never deny Jesus, but he did–three times–right before Jesus was crucified. It would seem he squandered his destiny and now would have to settle for a life of regret and mediocrity. In the moment of his failure, Peter could easily have thought this would be his fate, but his worst fears did not happen. Peter was restored and became a key builder of the church in fulfillment of the prophetic word he received (Matthew 16:17-18).
Her Husband Was Making Poor Choices – Sarah had a husband who was wishy-washy and created dysfunction in her home. He gave in to her pressure to help God out by sleeping with Hagar (Sarah’s handmaiden) resulting in the birth of Ishmael. Abraham lied twice in saying she was his sister which created huge messes. Their dream of a family of their own seemed out of reach for 100-year-old Abraham and 90-year-old Sarah, but it was not. After years of waiting and wondering if God’s word would be fulfilled, the promise indeed came to pass. “And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age” (Genesis 21:1).
Their City Was Heading Toward Judgment – Ninevah was a wicked city; its inhabitants’ sin was removing any remaining spiritual protection it had left, and judgment was imminent. To the citizens of the city, preservation seemed hopeless until a reluctant prophet named Jonah preached one message that sparked a city-wide spiritual revival and spared its people. (See the Book of Jonah.)
He Had a Series of Tragedy and Pain – Job could not understand what had happened. Tragedy had struck his family, his possessions, and his health. His “friends” made things worse by blaming him. Seemingly, he was destined to end his days in bitterness and misery–but no–his life turned around. “Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12).
He Was Rejected by a Spiritual Father – Mark was trying to be faithful, but the Apostle Paul removed him from his ministry team (Acts 15:39). Even though Mark continued to minister with Barnabas, Paul’s negative opinion had the potential to greatly limit his ministry. Mark may have thought it was inevitable that this key influencer would always think less of him, but breakthrough came and Paul’s opinion changed. In Paul’s last epistle, he wrote this, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).
He Was an Influential Leader Who Was Suicidal – Elijah was one of the greatest leaders of the Old Testament. He was chosen along with Moses to appear to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Even so, he was depressed and suicidal after he heard Jezebel wanted to kill him. Did he stay this way? No. After getting some rest, God said, “Go . . . anoint Hazael as king over Syria . . . anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha . . . you shall anoint as prophet in your place” (1 Kings 19:15-16). Elijah came out of his emotional struggle by clarifying his assignment and purpose for the next season.
She Had a Series of Relationship Failures – The woman at the well had been married five times and was now living with another man. It certainly would be unwise to have hope that she could be a significant revivalist. Or, would it? This unlikely woman became an evangelist to her town and a catalyst for the spread of the gospel in Samaria: “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified . . . They urged Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word” (John 4:39-41).
He Was the Least Likely to Become a Christian – Saul of Tarsus zealously persecuted Christians. How could someone like that ever get saved? “Impossible,” many would say. But he did, and he became one of the greatest Christian influencers ever.
His Commitment to Integrity and Purity Held Back His Dream– Joseph resisted Potiphar’s wife’s advances and was put in prison for thirteen years. Instead of promoting him, his purity plan seemingly made life harder. “I have wasted my life,” he could have thought. “God has forgotten me.” That was not the end of the story because everything changed in one day. He interpreted Pharoah’s dream and became second in command in Egypt. (See Genesis 41).
All these heroes of the faith had seemingly hopeless circumstances that turned out better than they could have imagined. Testimonies like these inspire us to have hope for a wonderful future and remind us that we have the power to help make it so. For more on this, please listen to my podcast.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.