Overcoming Adversity

Read this featured blog post by Pastor Tony Rea

Overcoming Adversity


Let’s start off today’s blog with a question: Did you have a favorite childhood superhero? Or maybe I should rephrase the question and ask, as a kid, who was your favorite superhero? I ask “who” because according to the experts, most everyone admits to having a at least one; and furthermore, behavioral science specialists agree that having a superhero is definitely normal behavior.

Growing up, I had three superheroes. (See how normal, healthy, and balanced I am? LOL.) I absolutely loved Mighty Mouse. Oftentimes I would put on a cape, run through the house, and sing, “Here I come to save the day!”

Then there was Popeye. Popeye loved spinach. (Spinach is my favorite vegetable to this day, and now Popeyes is my favorite chicken.) Watching each episode, I looked forward to Popeye getting himself into a tough situation where he was compelled to say “That's all I can stands, and I can't stands no more!” Remember what came next? That’s right, the chewy and muscle-making can of spinach.

And finally, I loved Superman. Superman was my favorite. I loved Superman, not only because he was “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound,” Superman also had this really cool disguise. When Superman put on a pair of glasses and pretended he was a news-reporter, no one recognized him. I mean he looked totally different than normal, and no one could tell Clark Kent was really Superman. This impersonation was brilliant!

So can you imagine just how excited I was to relive my childhood fantasy when in 1978 Hollywood created its first version of Superman? Superman I (the movie) grossed $12 million its very first weekend and became Warner Brothers most successful movie at the time, eventually grossing over $300 million. Guess I wasn’t the only one who dreamed about being Superman.

I'm sure the success of big-screen Superman was due in part to Christopher Reeve, a virtual no-name actor who played the character of Superman. At six feet four inches, 225 pounds, piercing blue eyes, and jet-black hair; not only was this modern version of Superman tall, dark, and handsome, he was clever, caring, sensitive, and strong.

Overnight Christopher Reeve became the hottest ticket in Hollywood. He experienced immediate stardom, wealth, and fame, gaining multi-millionaire status. His life changed dramatically, and over the next 10 years he would produce three additional Superman movies forever linking him to this Hollywood superhero. However, in this life we never really know what lies ahead…

On Saturday, May 27, 1995, Christopher Reeve (Hollywood’s Superman) came face-to-face with tragedy during a horse-jumping competition. Christopher Reeve was thrown from his horse, hit his head on the rail fence, and then landed directly on his forehead. Somehow both hands got caught up in the bridle, and he was unable to break his fall.

In one brief moment of time Reeve’s neck snapped and was broken, leaving him paralyzed and unable to breathe on his own. He lay motionless on the ground and was feared lost. The medical team was able to pump air back into his lungs and revive him. Rumors spread that he was brain-dead and wouldn't make it through the day. The man of steel was now fighting for his life. Medical experts diagnosed Reeve as having a fracture of both the first and second cervical vertebrae. They said he would be paralyzed from the neck down for the remainder of his life. USA Today (May 28, 1995) ran a headline story reporting recovery was doubtful; and with that particular injury, very few people survive.

But Christopher Reeve did survive, and even though we will forever have the stamped mental image of a wheelchair-bound Reeve, his personal story is one of courage, resolution, and unbelievable inner strength and spirit. He lived out the remainder of his days attempting to regain a sense of purpose, Reeve devoted himself to learning everything he could about his injuries and vowed to walk again by the age of 50 (he never did). He did, however, establish the Christopher Reeve Foundation, a financial entity that paired with the American Paralysis Association; and in 1999 became the leading organization for quadriplegic research and advancement.

It seems these days, more than ever before, people are stressed out, anxious, discouraged, and depressed. Many people are experiencing cycles of frustration and failure and very few find the place of abundant spiritual living. If we desire to experience victory in this life, we must be determined to fight the good fight of faith and overcome adversity.

There are many ways to stand strong in the face of opposition and trouble. Sometimes we have no other choice than to gut it out and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Determination, courage, and having the right attitude and mindset is always a step in the right direction. And I have found, along with inspired human effort, the most effective, lasting approach to adversity is possessing new-found faith in God. Our God, the God we serve is the God of the storm, and He will see us through… all the way to the other side.

Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV 

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

His understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might He increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint.