August 26, 2020
Problems: Our Friends or Our Enemies?
Here’s what seems like an easy question: does anyone ever want to hang out with a problem? Problems are definitely our enemies, right? As usual, I won’t conform to the world’s viewpoint as I answer. Making friends with your problems sounds so trite, even silly. But it’s actually what we need to do. And it really works! Though many events in your life may feel random and messed up because of all your problems, stop for a moment and remember this: your God is sovereign over everything … and He can “fit everything into a pattern of good” that will work for your long-term growth, benefit, and fulfillment.
Know this first. Remember the Garden of Eden. God would rather teach us without us experiencing suffering, heartache, and challenge. Unfortunately, we are stubborn and self-centered. So, God has to use methods that catch our attention to show us what is harmful or to protect us and derail our path when we are heading straight into destruction. It is called Discipling us! Discipline is intentional training that produces moral character or conduct. Spiritually, the goal of this training is the Mind of Christ. Events become problems only when we don’t understand the processes of discipleship and discipline.
Our problems are actually opportunities to show what we have learned. After I faithfully practiced at baseball, I wanted to play against stiff competition to show how much I had learned and how good my skills were. It was the same in medical school. As I assessed and worked up a patient and studied the illness, I was excited to present to the attending physician and let him grill and test me so I could show my growth as a psychiatrist. A “problem” in life is really the competition or test we take to show our growth … as well as the areas that still need work. Why? Because we need to grow! If you don’t grow, you are guaranteed more suffering.
The best way to befriend your problems is to thank God for His care for you. Each problem is an opportunity to show the work you have put in and your resulting growth in Him. Thank Him for His willingness to show you areas where He wants to grow and equip you. These simple acts will open your mind to receiving God’s benefits. When you see your “problems” clearly, you will begin developing the Mind of Christ and growing a more intimate relationship with God.
Today, look at your problems. If you are thankful and handling them, then you are preparing well … putting on the armor, getting your confidence from God, and letting the Lord lead you into battle. If you are struggling, and lack thankfulness and understanding of your problems, then look at how you are preparing for your “tests.” From where do you get your confidence? What is at the center of your heart, influencing the lenses through which you view your problems? It’s time for a heart exam. Whether you let your problems be springboards to an incredible place of fulfillment or you let them become obstacles to your peace and joy is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father, I am overwhelmed with life’s problems … they are mounting so much that I cannot see over them. At times I am almost paralyzed with fear. It’s hard, but I want to thank You for these problems. I do not expect You to remove them, Lord. But I do pray that You strengthen me through them and that You make good come from these problems. Let each problem teach me something, Lord. Transform me little by little into the masterpiece You have created me to be … draw me closer to You. I pray in the name of the One who grew stronger through adversity, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24