Focus on the Prize

When you were a child, have you ever received something from your parents, godparents, older siblings or relatives because you’ve done something good? Maybe you excelled in the class, or maybe you’ve just done a simple household chore without them asking you to do so.

How did it feel? The mere accomplishing the task is rewarding in itself, right? What more when you receive something unexpected. I’m pretty sure you’d jumped for joy!

Now that you’ve already grown up, for sure you have experienced failures, obstacles and difficulties. Those experiences that saddened you and destroyed your day. You want to achieve something, but it seems so far and the path towards achieving it is like a dwindling road that you want to give up and never try again.

Maybe it’s about your finances. You are burdened and it seems hopeless to get out of that financial crisis. Maybe it’s about your business or career, that for months and years nothing good has been happening and things are even getting worse! Or maybe it’s about your relationships. You are trying to fix such it but it seems to come to an end.

You see, it’s easy to rejoice and jump for joy when everything is falling into place. It’s easy to worship God and thank Him for the good things that are happening to you.

But my question is this…can you still rejoice amidst the chaos inside and around you? The Bible says it clearly… “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”. (Romans 5:2-4)

We’re already on the second half of the year. As you continue to paint a colorful and beautiful year, I want you to gain a new perspective in life: That you can still jump for joy in times of trials; that you can still rejoice amidst the pain; that you can still be hopeful in spite of difficulties.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7)

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
(2 Timothy 4:7)

Don’t focus on the negative stuffs, rather, focus on the prize – the fruits that sufferings may bring in to your life: Perseverance, Character, Hope, and a lot more!

And at the end of the day, just like St. Paul, you can also say to yourself: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Cheer up! God is with you.

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By: Aben Garlan
Photo Credit: Aben Garlan



We live in an imperfect world. With imperfect relationships, imperfect resources, imperfect health and imperfect situations.

That’s why I don’t watch television too often, because of the imperfections being highlighted most of the time. And when I choose to turn on the TV set, I make sure 99% of the time I watch programs that will make me laugh instead. Although few years back here in Cagayan De Oro, I had to set my alarm every week so that I won’t miss my favorite program. It’s useless though, because I missed 51 out of 52 weeks watching because it is not in my system. I’d rather divert my attention to more productive stuffs.

Living in a negative world, I too experienced great imperfections for this year alone. A lot of negative things happened and it seems that there’s no end. Just to summarize, I have been confined three times with a total of 45 days. All of these were serious illnesses and life threatening indeed! I had to fight against all my health challenges for more than 125 days. That covered more than 1/3 of the year! On top of my health problems are, of course, financial problems. Spending more than Ph750,000 up to present to recover health is really no joke. Emotional and relational problems arose too. I battled against anxieties and uncertainties. In other words, worries.

With the grace of God and help of the people in my life, I know I have fought a good fight. I can’t worry and worship at the same time. So instead of focusing on what has been happening, I focused on what’s above. My God who is always with me. My God who sees my future and not my present. My God who lifts me high. And it excites me more to focus on what God has in store for me in the years to come!

And for you, I pray that you can delete the negatives in your mind. May all your worries and fears be washed away. May God bless you in this year and beyond!

1 Peter 5:10 God will make everything right

Yes, you will suffer for a short time, but after that, God will make everything right.

– An article written for The Feast Cagayan De Oro Bulletin December 2013