I have a very low tolerance for temperatures above 85 degrees, so living in Arizona in summertime is a challenge. I have friends who love heat, the hotter the better, and it’s hard to understand that I’m not just complaining. Some days I really do feel like I am struggling to survive.
At least I have an air-conditioned house. People survive through atrocities much worse than hot weather. Someone who has won a battle with cancer is called a survivor. Someone who has lived through a terrible tragedy is called a survivor.
I heard a message a few months ago about the word survive. We think of its basic definition as simply continuing to live or exist. The word for survive in Spanish is “sobrevivir,” which means to live over, above, and higher. How cool is that? Surviving doesn’t have to mean merely continuing to breathe. It’s about pulling through and overcoming, a sort of super-living.
I went for a hike in Durango last week and saw some trees that had been damaged by a forest fire probably 50 years ago. My dad and I talked about how some types of pine trees require the intense heat of fire for their pinecones to open up and release the seeds. Fire is necessary to bring about regeneration.
Last July, a big storm ripped through Ahwatukee and many trees were knocked over. I noticed that many of the downed trees were palo verdes. Those trees are native to this area of the country and are rarely subject to major storms. The types of trees that withstood the storm best were the ones with deep root systems. They were more suited to being battered around by rain and wind, which only made them stronger.
In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul points out that we are like jars of clay, ordinary and breakable, yet the treasure inside of these jars is power from God: “We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.”
In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul describes some of the hardships he and his companions have endured, including beatings, imprisonment, riots, sleepless nights, and hunger. He goes on to say that he is filled with encouragement and overcome with joy in all their afflictions. In 2 Corinthians 7:4 that sounds more like super-living than just surviving.
I’ve lived through much worse things than a hot summer. God has given me the strength to do more than just survive. “God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my life” (Psalm 54:4).
Whatever you might be struggling through to survive right now, you can live above and beyond as an overcomer. Be more than just a survivor as we know the word in English. Be a superviviente.
• Lisa Jisa and her family have been residents of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2000. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.